Welcome to the new home of ChineseQuest, now on WordPress! If you followed my old blog you may know that I moved to Taiwan a few months ago. I also said I wouldn’t be blogging anymore, but apparently I like the sound of my own keyboard.

With a new direction in my life, a new location, and a renewed focus on learning Chinese, I felt a clean start was appropriate. I probably won’t post very often (as if I ever have), and this blog will have a different focus than the old one, probably focusing mainly on these three things:

  1. Taking classes in Taiwan and how to get the most out of it
  2. Getting ready for grad school
  3. Life in Taiwan

Number 1 is something that I feel there is not enough good information on. Most of the “info” out there is written by some whiny ill-informed foreigner complaining about how hard the language is or how they don’t like their teachers. I hope to provide some good, usable information for people taking courses here. The fact that I’m at MTC will of course mean that some of this type of thing will only be applicable to those studying there, but I hope most of it will be useful for anyone studying in Taiwan. The schools do all use the same books, after all. I hope to provide some clear information on how the courses at MTC work and what you can expect as far as progression through them. Unfortunately there isn’t much reliable info out there on this topic.

As far as “how to get the most out of it”, I mean talking about some of the new study tactics I’m using now. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it is working very well for me. These past three months I learned nearly 2500 new words, along with how to write about 75% of them, all with over 90% retention, consistently. And that was without trying to push it. Students at ICLP supposedly learn 80-100 words per day (retention is another thing, but if you’re using SRS and you’re diligent it should be doable), so my 28 per day is nothing. I’ll also talk sometimes about useful tools for learning, and I’ll say now that getting Pleco should be your number 1 priority if you don’t already have it. Also, how to SRS most effectively by using the “Cram” feature in your SRS program.

Number 2 is mainly for my own benefit. I’m trying to figure out what to specialize in (I’m torn between pre-Han history/language and Ming-Qing history), and I’m open to any recommendations. Reading material, people to contact, etc. I already have made a few good contacts here, and have gotten some very encouraging feedback from some of the very top scholars in the field(s) back home. Anyway, sometimes it helps me to write my thoughts out about this, so I will unfortunately bore you with these things sometimes.

Number 3 will probably not take up much space here. That’s what Facebook is for. But if there’s something I think is especially worth doing in Taiwan, I’ll post about it. I’m also looking for an English tutoring job or part-time (10 hours or so per week) English teaching job in Taipei, and may post about that occasionally. I’m also open for any leads in that area. 🙂

Now, as for what I’ve been up to, the answer is “a lot”. I’ve changed my approach to studing immensely, my Chinese has come further in three months than it had in three years – seriously – my Classical Chinese is progressing nicely, and I’ve begun studying some Japanese again (having a class half full of Japanese students was the catalyst for restarting this). I’ll even be traveling to Tokyo for Chinese New Year in January to stay with one of my classmates and her family. I may even try to study in Japan for a few months or a year before starting grad school. It all depends on money, of course.

More on all this later.