The Ultimate Super-Whopping-Mega Guide to Learning Chinese in Taiwan


If you’re learning Mandarin Chinese and you want an immersive learning experience, Taiwan is the perfect place for you.

Having previously written a lengthy post titled The Ultimate Guide to Learning Mandarin Chinese in China, I felt it was time to create something similar for the country of Taiwan.

This post answers a lot of questions you might have about learning Mandarin in Taiwan, so make use of the hyperlinks below if you’re looking for something specific.

Where is the Best Place to Learn Chinese?

The best place to learn Mandarin is where you are right now.

You have to spend a lot of time reading, watching, listening, and studying Mandarin to reach a high level in the language, and you can complete these activities wherever you are in the world

You don’t have to live in a Mandarin speaking country to learn Mandarin Chinese. Language learning is about your attitude, not your location.

Too many people believe the only thing coming between them and their goals for fluency is simply being present in the country where their target language is spoken. It’s not true. I know people who have lived in China for 10+ years and they can’t speak a lick of Mandarin.

Having said that…

If you’re pro-active and your desire to learn Mandarin is strong, and you live in a Mandarin speaking country, this can be a very powerful combination for learning Mandarin.

When learning another language, people often speak of the benefits of immersion.

“Oh, you’re learning Chinese? You should go and live in a Beijing Hutong for a year. You’ll be fluent!”

This isn’t really how it works, but there are still a number of benefits of visiting a Mandarin speaking country to learn Mandarin.

  • Endless opportunities to speak, listen, and read Mandarin.
  • Opportunities to learn about Chinese culture.
  • In-person language exchange and tutoring opportunities are plentiful.
  • You can have an incredibly interesting experience!

But if you’re learning Mandarin, why specifically would you choose to come to Taiwan instead of China?

Why NOT to Study in China

As I enter a more sensitive subject area, I need to make something clear – I have no problem with China as a country. I lived in China for almost 8 years and had an overall amazing experience and met some of my favourite people there.

However, I need to be 100% honest with my readers because that’s what this website is all about – helping people.

I would encourage those who are planning to go to China specifically to learn Mandarin NOT to do so in 2022.

Here are the reasons why:

  • China is closed – China is the last bastion of Covid zero (other than North Korea) and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon. It’s incredibly difficult to enter the country on a work visa right now and it’s virtually impossible to enter on any other type of visa. There is no indication these circumstances will change any time soon.
  • Lack of travel opportunities – Even if you somehow do manage to get into the country, inter provincial travel is a big hassle as there are so many restrictions on movement with rules that change daily due to the zero-COVID policy.
  • The political climate – In general, foreign guests are becoming less welcome in China due to rising nationalism and political tensions. It’s a strange environment to be in right now, and far from the ideal place to speak to strangers as a foreigner. Obviously everyone has different experiences, but restrictions and freedoms in China have been rolled back in recent years, and you need to be aware of this.

Reasons you Should Learn Mandarin in Taiwan

Although being unable to go to China is a sad reality in the modern world, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of reasons you should go to Taiwan to learn Mandarin Chinese instead.

  • Taiwan is accessible – Taiwan is open to language students and student visas are currently available.
  • In-person classes are available – Both university language courses and private language centres are offering in-person classes throughout Taiwan.
  • Real Chinese culture – Accessing traditional Chinese culture is much easier in Taiwan as the Taiwanese have done a better job of preserving it.
  • Taiwan is awesome – Taiwan is a beautiful island with so much to offer. Friendly people, beautiful scenery, great food, and all of it can be accessed by high quality and reasonably priced transport links.

Where Can I Study Chinese in Taiwan?

There are a number of different cities and institutions where you can learn Mandarin in Taiwan.

Taiwan has both university language courses and private language centres available, but be warned distinguishing between the two can be a little confusing. For example, many universities in Taiwan have private language school attached to them.

The main differences between a university language course and private language centre course in Taiwan are costs and scheduling.

  • Language centres tend to cost more but you have more customisation options with your study program.
  • University language programs are in centres attached to universities and follow a semester schedule. They will be cheaper but class sizes will be larger and leaning methods might be more ‘old school’. There is a much wider choice of university language courses compared to independent Chinese language centres.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a specific location in Taiwan are:

  • Costs – living costs in Taipei will be considerably higher than anywhere else on the island, especially when it comes to rent.
  • School options – The trade-off for the high cost of living in Taipei is that you have the widest choice of good Mandarin schools in the capital.
  • Climate – For a small island, Taiwan has a lot of different micro-climates. The north is on average a few degrees cooler than the south, and Taichung has more sunny days than any other city on the island. Read more about the climate of Taiwan here.
Taiwan is a very diverse island with Mandarin schools in most larger cities. Map courtesy of worldmaps.com

Language Centres in Taiwan

Below you’ll find information regarding the most popular private language centres across Taiwan. As expected, there is a higher concentration of renowned language centres in the capital – Taipei. However, there are still options in other cities.

When it comes to studying Mandarin at a private Chinese language centre in Taiwan, keep in mind the following:

  • Private language centre courses tend to be more expensive than university languages courses
  • *Private language centres don’t usually offer a student visa – the average course length at language centres tends to be shorter.
  • Private language courses tend to be more customisable than university courses – you can have 1-on-1, small groups, intensive classes, etc.

*Pre Covid-19, Taiwan offered very generous visa free travel opportunities to foreigners from many countries. This meant that student visas were unnecessary for those studying short-term at Mandarin language centres. At the moment, tourist visas still aren’t being granted for Taiwan, but this post will be updated when those circumstances change.

Taiwan Mandarin Institute

Located in central Taipei, the Taiwan Mandarin Institute is probably the most renowned Mandarin teaching school in the city. Plenty of foreign students have come through the doors over the years and many of them speak very highly of their learning experience.

  • Cost: NT$ 15,600 for two weeks (intensive 4 hours per day small group classes)
  • Student Visa: No
  • Accommodation: Yes
  • Location: Taipei – Google Maps
  • Website

Taipei Language Institute

The Taipei Language Institute has branches in four different Taiwanese cities: Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung and Shilin. Custom classes are available and prices for classes fluctuate depending on which campus you decide to study in.

  • Cost:
  • Student Visa: No
  • Accommodation: No
  • Location: Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Shilin.
  • Website

Globe Mandarin

Also located centrally in Taipei, Globe Mandarin is only a few minutes walk away from the Taiwan Mandarin Institute and the Taipower Building metro station in Da’an district.

  • Cost: NT$22,000 for two weeks (intensive 4 hours per day small group classes)
  • Student Visa: No
  • Accommodation: Unavailable
  • Location: Taipei – Google Maps
  • Website

Pioneer Language Institute

Probably the most budget friendly language school on this list, Pioneer Language Institute offers standard small group classes (4 weeks/40 hours) for only NT$7,000. There are a range of other course customisation options at Pioneer, and the centre is conveniently located in downtown Taipei.

  • Cost: NT$7,000 for 40 hours of small group classes spread over 4 weeks.
  • Student Visa: No
  • Accommodation: Unavailable (helpful list of nearby options on their website)
  • Location: Taipei – Google Maps
  • Website

American Councils Intensive Summer Language Program

There are a few entry requirements to get on this course. It’s also incredibly expensive. Undergraduates, graduate students, recent graduates, and working professionals who have completed 1-3 years of university-level Chinese or the equivalent are eligible. As the name implies, this course takes place in the summer months between June and August.

  • Cost: 8,239 US Dollars for 8 week course
  • Student Visa: Unavailable
  • Accommodation: Unavailable
  • Location: Tainan – Google Maps
  • Website

University Language Courses in Taiwan

National Taiwan University Library, Taipei

As mentioned earlier, there are many university language courses available in Taiwan. If you decide to go with a university language course, you’ll probably have a wider choice of Taiwanese cities to study in.

Although not all university language courses are created equally, course content tends to be quite similar across the board.

  • Class schedule – usually around 3 hours of classes daily from Monday to Friday.
  • Semester schedule – most university language courses run in 10-12 week blocks. If you were to study for a full academic year, you’d be learning for 12 weeks at time with a short breaks in between.
  • Cost – fees will be much cheaper than private language schools, but your class sizes are likely to be larger. Your studies may also have a more ‘academic’ feel to them with textbooks, regular class dictation, graded homework, etc.

National Taiwan University (International Chinese Language Program)

The most popular and well-regarded university language program attached to the highest ranking university in Taiwan. This place attracts a huge number of international students who take part in the semester Chinese courses.

  • Schedule: 3 group classes + 1 individual class per day (1 class = 50 minutes) Monday to Friday.
  • Cost: 1 semester (11 weeks) – NT$141,000
  • Location: Taipei – Google Maps
  • Website

National Taiwan Normal University (Mandarin Training Centre)

This course might not be quite as highly-regarded as the one at National Taiwan University, but it’s fairly similar in structure and more budget friendly. Group classes will most likely have more students in them than at NTU. 1-on-1 tutoring isn’t included in the fees here, although you can pay extra for individual classes.

  • Schedule: 3 group classes daily (1 class = 50 minutes) Monday to Friday.
  • Cost: 12 week semester (6-10 students) – NT$36,000
    12 week semester (13-20 students) – NT$28,800
  • Location: Taipei – Google Maps
  • Website

National Cheng Kung University (Chinese Language Centre)

National Cheng Kung University is in the smaller city of Tainan. It probably has the most well-respected university language course of any university outside of Taipei. The city of Tainan offers a more immersive experience for learning Mandarin as there are fewer foreigners there and fewer English speakers in general.

  • Schedule: 3 group classes (6-12 students) daily Monday to Friday.
  • Cost: 11 week semester group classes – NT$32,000
    11 week semester 1-on-1 classes – NT$78,000
  • Location: Tainan – Google Maps
  • Website

National Sun Yat-Sen University (Chinese Language Centre)

One of two university language centres in the southern city of Kaohsiung (the other is Wenzao Ursuline University of Foreign Languages). The Course at Sun-Yat Sen is rumoured to be more organised and slightly more intense, making it a great option for really serious learners.

  • Schedule: 3 group classes 15 hours a week (part-time classes available)
  • Cost: 11 week semester group classes – NT$29,700
  • Location: Kaohsiung – Google Maps
  • Website

National Taichung University of Education (Chinese Language Centre)

If you’re looking for a fairer climate, Taichung has the best weather out of any other city in Taiwan. It’s located half-way down the western coast of Taiwan between Taipei and Kaohsiung. If you’re looking for cheaper prices with a fairly big city feel, you should consider Taichung.

  • Schedule: 3 group classes (5-14) students daily Monday to Friday.
  • Cost: 11 week seasonal block of classes (180 hours/3 months) – NT$25,200
  • Location: Taichung – Google Maps
  • Website

Can I Study Chinese in Taiwan for Free?

A wise person once said that nothing comes for free, but that person had never read my blog post Learn Chinese for FREE | Free Apps, Sites, Courses, and Media!

But seriously, to reach a high level of Mandarin Chinese, you’re going to need thousands of hours of comprehensible input. The good news is you can access comprehensible input for free anywhere you are in the world.

You don’t need to pay to study at a language centre or university in Taiwan to improve your Mandarin. Enrolling in a Mandarin language institution certainly isn’t going to hurt your progress in the language, but it isn’t essential.

One of the other plus points to being in Taiwan is that you have countless opportunities for language exchange, which if done correctly, is completely free. If you want to know how to get the most out of a language exchange, check out Language Exchange: The Pros and Cons of a Language Partner .

FAQs

Is Taiwan a good place to study Mandarin?

If you’re looking for an immersive learning experience then Taiwan is the place to go. There are so many learning institutions to choose from, the island is very easy to navigate, and Taiwanese people are incredibly warm and friendly.

How much does it cost to study Mandarin in Taiwan?

The cost of your studies in Taiwan will depend largely on the institution you’re studying with and the city you’re living in. The cheapest semester university course can be around NT$25,000 for a 10-12 week block of daily classes. Any private language school will cost a lot more than this. You can check out a cost of living to Taiwan here.

Can I study in Taiwan without know Mandarin?

Yes. There are so many language programs and courses directed towards newbies to Mandarin Chinese. Don’t be worried about your day-to-day life in Taiwan as a non-Mandarin speaker – the standard of English is really good in Taiwan. You’ll probably find a lot of locals wanting to practice their English with you.

Do they use traditional or simplified characters in Taiwan?

Taiwan uses traditional characters. Some university language courses offer the option of study materials with simplified characters, but not all. For more details on the differences between simplified and traditional characters, check out Simplified and Traditional Chinese Characters | Which Should I Learn?

Mandarin Learning Resources

You don’t have to be in Taiwan to learn Mandarin, and even if you are, many of the resources listed below can help learn Mandarin independently from any location.

If you’re looking for more Mandarin learning tips and resource reviews, check out the search function on the home page or check out some of the following posts.

再见!

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