Tenwest Mandarin School


YNU First World $$'s, 2nd Rate Institute

kenzo (2 posts) • 0

YNU ICIS Mandarin Program,

Recent experiences at YNU is leaving a bitter taste.

Was it it good value for the money?

From the outset the program promised but did not deliver. From being awoken at 2 a.m. by a telephone call from the school to our home country,(ever heard of time zones, oh!, they didn't cover that in teacher's collage) a voice reading from a paper everthing that we had spent months repeatedly trying to have comfirmed by email. An online registration form seemingly not updated since 1995. An onsite registration process that takes days and a half a dozen passport pictures to complete. (Where do those pictures go?) Repeated requests from the school for information which they already have on file....in the same office. A visa service that is so poorly run so as to cost double what it should if they had their ducks lined up. An inability to give a correct and thourough calendar of dates in advance so students who have duties and responsibitlies futher then the schools 2 week time line, can make plans both professional and personnal. Teachers, though sincere in thier intentions and well trained in the Chinese method, lacking international experience and longterm experience generally. Alot of in class time versus real teaching going on. Endless quizing for what reason? Promised "extra cultural programming", being offered but poorly run. Unannounced class cancelations, (isn't that what all that contact information was for?).

Who is the customer here? Prehaps this is example of this country has so many people that the buisnesses don't really care because there will always be another sucker coming along.

In the end of course we are all on our own to make the best of things. However it pisses of this westener who values their time as much as their money! Is this what Chinese students must put up with? I don't know whether to laugh or cry!
If you are young and have time and money to kill and you want to take some mandarin courses, Kuming is a great place to do it, but this is not Shanghai or Beijing, and a serious student should look elsewhere.

laotou (1714 posts) • 0

I agree with everything you said - however I'm not saying it's right or wrong - just this is China - this is NOT a Tier 1 city or international city with all those nice amenities. We're lucky to have 24 hour hot water and power...or 24 hour water for that matter. I think your expectations were illusionary. Although China is and remains an advanced civilization - the infrastructure and technologies are still catching up. If you have a gripe - blame the USA and it's allies for their infinite anti-communist China trade sanctions over the last 60 years. Dubious strategy - just slowed things down a little - actually ended up pushing China towards the Soviet Union instead of splitting the two most powerful communist block nations in the world at the time.

As far as universities in the southwest of China - Yunda is actually amongst the best. Although they cannot attract Nobel (now a brand of rather dubious value) prize winning teachers because they simply don't have the big budgets of the Tier 1 cities. They're ranked around #64 out of over 200 universities but about 90% of all the R&D funds go to the top 10-20 universities in China - which are mostly in Beijing and Shanghai - although Xiamen is up there too.

People come to Yunnan to study Chinese because the cost of living is CHEAP versus Tier 1 cities and it's more "earthy" than the Tier 1 cities. Let's face it - If you've been to Beijing or Shanghai - it's roughly the same as any capital in the world...aside form the signs. Kunming is more rurally natural - with its third world lifestyle. If it's comfort you seek - fork out the bucks and go to the Tier 1 cities. Otherwise this place is really rather rural - it's just we have a lot of cars, construction, and major infrastructures - highways, airports, rail, banks, gas stations. Really amazing actually if you compare China to say Africa or the Middle East.

As for calling in the middle of the night - they call during their working hours, not yours. All schools do this regardless of country. They have lots of foreign teachers and students to manage from all over the world - not just USA or UK time zones. If you wanted custom service - probably should have elected for the pseudo private accredited language schools - and if you've read some of the posts here - they're equally frustrating and downright scary sometimes when it comes to the visa thing - aka - "just come - don't worry about the visa - we can resolve that here"....and other similarly scary gray promises.

I hope this doesn't come across as a slam or a flame as it wasn't meant that way - as Kenzo does raise valid points for students from comfy countries like the Americas or Europe. China still has a long way to go in the Tier 2 cities before we have the same infrastructures as a Beijing, Shanghai, or Tokyo. However - if you've got the gumption - it also has much more direct access to the rich diverse cultures of the highest concentration of minority peoples in China - the rural areas are just a short jump away (3 hours and you're in goat trail country).

I suppose as JJ would philosophize - you find what you seek. If you come looking to complain - it's easy to find - but if you open your mind and your heart - you can find the 25% that makes it a unique and positively memorable experience. If you focus on the 75% crap - you'll definitely find it - especially here...but that holds true anywhere.

Regret your bad experience - but just imagine how much worse it could have been if you'd gone to a non-accredited school - visa woes, amateur chinese teachers with NO lesson plans, and a slew of other onesy-twosey things they can charge you extra for - that's how thieves work - they don't go for the big score - they're more like the indigenous mosquitoes - lots of small sips from the blood of life.

kenzo (2 posts) • 0

Hey thanks for keeping it civil Daniel and expanding the discussion.
Universities should be held to a higher standard then store front schools and that is the basis of a lot of the disatisfaction. YNU presented themselves as competent but when the rubber hit the road an ongoing series of obvious incompetencies exposed their short comings. I sincerely hope they have the wherewithall to improve.

My point about the late night phone call? That is what the internet is for.
Inexperienced teachers? I guess they move on when they get better, believe me some of them are shining lights in the darkness that is YNU.

no way (104 posts) • 0

i'll be the first to second that YNNU is third rate.
stuck it out there for one semester, found it very
frustrating and disappointing. problem i found was
ynnu is a teaching school; seems they hire their

teachers from the graduating class - no teaching
experience, and little prior contact with furr'ners.
most classes led by inexperienced trainees using
the standard chinese style of rote memorization.

moved on to ELCEC and was mighty pleased.

baiyuxiang (103 posts) • 0

I studied at YNNU for 4.5 years, graduated from there with a BA, but that was 3.5 years ago. I saw similar problems then. I never attended a private language school here, but my hunch is that the private schools will almost always do a better job than the universities. (Excluding the fly-by-night start-ups, out for a quick buck, of course.)

As was mentioned above, the universities are actually at a disadvantage, precisely because of their governing/management structure, and the teaching methods they bring with them.

When I first started at Shida, back in '02, it had already been teaching Chinese to foreigners for a number of years, but was still small enough to be flexible (reasonable) and competitive in how it treated its foreign students. The next few years saw its success begin to become its downfall, as more exchange programs were set up, more (rookie) teachers hired, and the management grew, filled, of course, by the friends and relatives of the powers that were already in place.

With size, and the crystallization of the distinctly Chinese university management structure, flexibility and common sense competitive principles went out the window.

So basically, while competent administration and talented teachers can make universities good places to learn Chinese, my limited observation would suggest that universities don't deal with 'success' very well.

The last two years I spent at Shida, and my current experiences teaching English at Kunming Univ., confirm that yes, Chinese students deal with similar if not more frustrations, with the key difference being that many of them (until now, at least) do not have the luxury of pulling out and picking something better.

Oh, and racism factors in too. The teachers were more than happy to be nice to me as an American, but my Vietnamese classmates didn't get the same velvet-glove treatment. (The latter deteriorated over time as the bureaucracy grew exponentially)

laotou (1714 posts) • 0

Kenzo & D
My bad...YNU...

Did you mention this to the school head? Please let them know so they (hopefully) can try to improve. Probably best to report to the Foreign Affairs Office and/or the Dean of the Foreign Students Department.

Would also help if you can recommend how to improve their classes. Chinese education is entrenched in the rote memorization style of teaching - then most students go home and mostly self study from the books - but that's also how I got thru my USA university - we had about 5 nobel prize winners (across about 5 decades) teaching - really brilliant and super nice (or super evil) people - but horrible terrible lecturers (caused chronic narcolepsy) - but with the Nobel prizes - they brought in the grants and corporate donors.

And again - I apologize if there were any inflammatories in my response - it wasn't meant that way...

As for the non-native English speaking students (I'm assuming the Vietnamese students were non-native English speakers) - Chinese in general don't deal well with non-native English speakers. My Indian staff was heavily discriminated against because the Chinese staff couldn't understand his English - most Chinese have tremendous difficulty with dialectic English. And my staff was incredibly nice and polite and very competent and hard working - the complaints ticked me off.

For the record - most Chinese are rather racist - historically. Remember - they used to think most foreigners were barbarians and the middle kingdom was the epitomy of culture (which it debatedly was a LONG time ago). And the foreign occupations left many bitter memories. I recently met an 81 yo farmer from Dongbei who still speaks Japanese - a relic from the Japanese occupation of Dongbei...he was quite opinionated (voice went up a few decibels) when that subject came up...

laotou (1714 posts) • 0

and my dad's semi-blind in one eye - courtesy of a french rifle butt. The French garrisoned troops on the bottom floor of our house (in Kunming). My dad (16 yo) went in to complain about them bringing prostitutes into our house - silly thing to do but he was young and rather idealistic. Oh...and garrisoned means they seized the bottom floor of the house. So those negative experiences in that generation run quite deep - as do the positive affections Yunnan people have towards Americans and the Flying Tigers.

saynay (1 post) • 0

Not really meant to be a flame or anything,but....

Laotou It's hard to let your comment about 20th century Chinese history slide "blame the USA and it's allies for their infinite anti-communist China trade sanctions over the last 60 years. Dubious strategy - just slowed things down a little - actually ended up pushing China towards the Soviet Union instead of splitting the two most powerful communist block nations in the world at the time."
Do you really believe that the Chairman had little to do with the state of present day Chinese society? Since your father was "semi blinded by French troops garrisoned in his house", you surely must be old enough to have witnessed first hand the effects of the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. Truly progressive movements with endless misery.persecution and murder of just about anyone considered an intellectual or possessing the ability to think. Once the Great Leader had what he needed in the way of military and nuclear weapons,at a cost of,perhaps 70,000,000 civilian deaths(more than Stalin himself,who was quoted as being "quite impressed" with the ruthlessness of the PRC) he dumped the Soviet Union like a hot potato. Instead of finger pointing,perhaps a little introspection is in order..China and the Chinese people really need to look in the mirror and at their own history in order to understand themselves and their problems

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