The Taiwan Intensive Summer Language Program (TISLP) enables dedicated students of Mandarin Chinese to complete a year's worth of academic study in only eight weeks. The program is hosted by the Chinese Language Center at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Tainan, Taiwan. As a welcoming, accessible, and convenient society rich in diverse cultures, natural scenery, delicious cuisine, and ancient traditions, Taiwan is an ideal place for students of Mandarin to rapidly strengthen their language skills and cultural understanding.
TISLP combines twenty hours of weekly small group and one-on-one language instruction with regular cultural workshops, excursions, interactions with language partners, a weekend homestay, and housing with local student roommates to create a truly immersive learning environment.
This program is tailored for individuals committed to rapidly improving their Mandarin proficiency. To optimize their immersion experience, students are expected to speak Mandarin at all times and spend an average of four hours on coursework each night.
Undergraduates, graduate students, recent graduates, and working professionals who have completed 1-3 years of university-level Chinese or the equivalent are welcome to apply.
The program is designed to develop students' speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills and features 8 weeks of intensive language study in second, third, and fourth-year level Chinese with 20 hours of language instruction each week. Classes are held five days a week, four sessions per day and include two lecture and drilling classes, one conversation and discussion class, and a one-on-one personalized instruction class each weekday. In addition, teachers are available for tutoring during office hours scheduled after regular classes five days a week.
Daily personalized one-on-one instruction caters to each student's unique interests, strengths, and weaknesses.
Students strengthen their language skills through activities and excursions designed to reinforce their understanding of Chinese culture and language. Through the combination of intensive coursework and an immersion environment, students are amazed at how quickly their language skills and cultural understanding progress.
All participants who successfully complete the program earn 2 units (the equivalent of approximately eight undergraduate credit hours or ten graduate credit hours) of U.S. academic credit awarded through Bryn Mawr College. The program allows participants to advance an average of one full academic year in their language studies at their home universities.
"After the program, I spent a week traveling around Taiwan on my own, and I was amazed how easy it was to chat in Chinese. This program really brought me a long way."
- Jason Twohy (2016)
To aid cultural integration and help students build on the skills they have learned in the classroom, participants meet regularly with local conversation partners. Conversation partners help participants adjust to daily life in Taiwan, serve as expert guides to Taiwanese culture and society, and provide students with academic support. Conversation partners are expected to speak only the target language.
Participants and conversation partners (like this group visiting Mt. Ali) are free to plan their own activities based on mutual interests.
[From our language partners] we were able to understand how it is for a student our age to live in Taiwan. It is a window to what we truly want from an immersion program and that is to be as close to the culture as possible.
- Mishel Kondi (2016)
Excursions & Activities
As part of the program, participants engage in a number of day trips, overnight excursions, and cultural activities designed to provide a deeper understanding of Taiwanese society, life, culture, business, and history. In the past, cultural activities have included introductions to topics such as calligraphy, cooking, Chinese opera, and seal making. Recent excursions have included trips to Taiwan's capital, Taipei; Kenting National Park; and Foguangshan Buddha Memorial Center.
Students also spend a weekend with a local host family to gain perspective into Taiwanese everyday life and experience the island's trademark hospitality.
I fell in love with Taiwan. Honestly, I am still unsure about plans regarding the rest of my life, but I know Taiwan will be a part of it.
- Regina Wu (2016)
Housing & Meals
Students live in a NCKU dormitory with local roommates during their stay in Tainan. Students are responsible for paying for their own meals besides those provided during orientation and cultural excursions.
Administration & Partners
American Councils administers the program in partnership with the Chinese Language Center at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Tainan, Taiwan. Founded in 1982 and educating more than one thousand Chinese learners each year, the Chinese Language Center at National Cheng Kung University is one of the largest and most well-renowned Mandarin language centers in Taiwan. The Chinese Language Center's experienced faculty and staff look forward to helping participants meet their language learning goals. Conveniently located in Tainan's city center, the NCKU campus is an excellent home base to explore the city's many historic and cultural points of interest.
"The instructors are phenomenal and receptive to any suggestions; the one on one and one on three reinforcement classes are especially helpful."
- 2016 Participant
Through the generous support of the Taiwan Ministry of Education, all U.S. citizens admitted to the program receive scholarships of $4,000 - $5,000 (contingent on final approval). Applicants are automatically considered for this funding - no separate financial aid application is necessary.
Applicants seeking additional funding for their trip may consider the following resources:
- The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship - The Gilman Scholarship Program offers awards for undergraduate study abroad. This scholarship provides award for U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study and intern abroad programs worldwide. The deadline for Summer 2017 scholarship funding is March 7, 2017. See the Gilman website for more details or contact your study abroad office.
- Freeman Awards for Study in Asia (Freeman-ASIA) - The Freeman-ASIA program is designed to support U.S.-based undergraduates with demonstrated financial need who are planning to study abroad in East or Southeast Asia. The program's goal is to increase the number of U.S. citizens and permanent residents with first-hand exposure to and understanding of Asia and its peoples and cultures. The deadline for Summer 2017 scholarship funding is March 1, 2017. Visit the Freeman-ASIA Program website for more information on how to apply.
- Study Abroad Scholarships from Your University - Many colleges and universities, via their Study Abroad/International Education offices, provide scholarships to students for the sole purpose of studying abroad. Check with your study abroad office to find out if such scholarships are offered at your home institution.
- University Financial Aid Packages - Are you receiving financial aid to attend your home institution? Many financial aid packages can be use to study on American Councils programs. Check with your financial aid office and study abroad office for more details.
While overseas, participants have access to in-country program staff that provide around-the-clock emergency support. A full-time resident director oversees the academic and cultural program; assists participants in academic, administrative and personal matters; and coordinates activities with the host institution faculty. During the program, the AC Study Abroad Team in Washington, D.C. stays in close contact via email and telephone with in-country program staff and provides updates as needed to study abroad offices, university partners, and family members.
I felt so safe and important throughout the program and the people really made the whole experience memorable for me.
- Annie Seaman (2016)
Participants are enrolled in comprehensive overseas health, accident, and evacuation insurance through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) for the duration of the program. CISI provides medical coverage of up to $250,000 per accident or illness. Enrollment in the CISI plan also provides full coverage for emergency medical evacuation.
U.S. citizens are not required to obtain a visa for visits to Taiwan under 90 days in duration. It is the student's responsibility to obtain any other visas required by their individual itineraries.