Thinking of bringing your children to Taiwan for the summer to improve their Mandarin Chinese? A refresh of our article from two years ago, “Summer Language Camps in Taiwan: Five Firsthand Accounts,” this time we profile five Taiwanese American families* who enrolled in camps, some a little off the main path, to assist in their children’s Mandarin Chinese learning. Information current as of July 2019.
*Some names have been changed
Seeking A Cultural Experience – Karen
Karen was born in Taiwan and is fluent in speaking Mandarin Chinese but cannot read or write. Her children, ages 6 and 9, attend a bilingual Mandarin/English elementary school in the US. Karen and her husband, who does not know any Chinese, decided to make a stop in Taiwan part of their summer vacation, enrolling their children in a one-week local summer camp arranged through San Francisco-based Sky Kids.
Program name: Sky Kids Summer Camp at Xinyi Elementary in New Taipei City (新北市板橋區信義國民小學)
Class size and format: Full day (8:30a-4:30p) camp integrated with a local elementary school. Themed weeks including STEAM, Art & Culture, Magic, etc. (see website for more details). Students are split into younger (grades 1-3) and older (grades 4-6) classes. ~30 children per class.
Language of instruction: Mandarin Chinese, although some teachers provided English translations, especially after Karen’s younger child asked for assistance.
Duration and cost: Late-June through Late-Aug, weekly camps available, USD$500/week. Payment and registration through Sky Kids’ English website.
Summer camp info: www.sky-kids.org/2019-mandarin-immersion-taiwan
Commentary: Karen’s daughters had to adjust to the local school environment—particularly the heat!—but overall they enjoyed the camp and said they would love to come again. Karen found the one week Taiwan experience great for cultural immersion and she enjoyed seeing her children adapt independently to new surroundings.
Venturing to Southern Taiwan – Sandra
Sandra doesn’t speak or read Mandarin Chinese, but has invested a lot of resources—including sessions with an online tutor several times a week—to ensure that her son, age 8, learns the language. Sandra’s husband’s family is from the Kaohsiung area so she relied on them to assist in coordinating camp for her son. Sandra and her husband took turns being in Taiwan, and she was also able to work remotely, in order for their son to attend the camp.
Program name: National Kaohsiung Normal University, Center of Language and Culture Teaching Mandarin Summer Camp for Kids & Youths (國際兒童華語夏令營)
Class size and format: Half day (1:30-4:30pm) language camp, including speaking, listening, reading and writing, games and cultural activities such as singing and art. ~10-20 students per class, split by age group.
Language of instruction: Mandarin Chinese Language camp targeted at international students; teachers adjust to students’ abilities.
Duration and cost: Mid-June through Mid-August. 3 terms available, 3 weeks each. NT11,250 / USD$360 per term. Email registration available, but payment must be made in cash onsite or via local bank transfer.
Summer camp info: http://184.108.40.206/CLCT/Home/CourseInformation?id=fe148f9dede94b3da9f87a28a40c49d6
Commentary: The Center of Language and Culture Teaching is a school for the teaching of Chinese language and culture so many of the teachers are in training or relatively new. Sandra says that the teacher-to-student ratio was very good and therefore her son was able to get individualized instruction, in contrast to some of the larger language programs in Taipei.
Sustaining Mandarin Chinese Abilities – Amy
Living in Europe, Amy’s children, ages 5 and 8, have limited opportunity to study Mandarin (no outside classes or tutoring), other than at home with her. With the help of her parents, Amy was able to spend nearly two months with her children in Taipei during the summer.
Program name: YMCA, Ku-Ting Education Center Summer Sports Camp (暑期活力品格運動營) (other YMCA branches offer similar programs)
Class size and format: Full day (9:30a-4:30p) camp with activities including sports, LEGO, cooking, crafts, etc. Field trips on Wednesdays to local attractions including museums and amusement parks. Approx. 10-15 students per class, split by age group.
Language of instruction: Mandarin Chinese; some activities required Chinese reading/writing.
Duration and cost: July and August, two four-week terms. NT19,000 / USD$620 per term (some electives have additional charges). Email registration available, but payment must be made in cash onsite or via local bank transfer.
Summer camp info: http://kt.ymca.org.tw/camp-2019-1.htm
Commentary: Amy’s children speak some Mandarin with her at home, but she feels that summers in Taiwan are critical to retaining and improving her sons’ Chinese proficiency. The YMCA camp had a lot of different activities; although, her sons did report that some were “a bit boring.” In addition, nap time (required in almost all full day camps) was not something they were used to.
Return to Taiwan – Cathy
Cathy and her husband were both born in Taiwan and immigrated to the US in early elementary school. Cathy herself maintained her own Chinese abilities but had not placed much emphasis on it for her children (ages 5 and 7). When they decided to take their kids back to Taiwan for the summer, and it was first time she and her husband had been back in over ten years. She hoped that her children would want to learn Chinese, so she sought a camp which would not only provide language instruction, but would also be fun for them. Cathy’s husband has a flexible working situation, so he was able to stay in Taiwan for five weeks, while Cathy flew back to the US after the first two weeks.
Program name: Chinese Summer Camp at Lih-Jen International Private School (台北市私立立人小學 – 全球菁英領袖营)
Class size and format: Full day (8:00a-4:10pm) split into Kindergarten (under 6) and Elementary (ages 6-12). Kindergarten program includes stories, games, art, music. ~10 kids per class. Elementary program includes morning language study (reading, writing, speaking, listening) and afternoon cultural classes (ceramics, art, cooking, Chinese yo-yo, etc.). Elementary program also has optional sleepovers at the school’s dorms. ~20 kids/class, separate by level. Both programs include field trips and an end of session performance for parents.
Language of instruction: Chinese; however, as most students are from the US, mostly English is spoken outside of class.
Duration and cost: Month of July; two- or four-week sessions available. Kindergarten: two-week tuition: NT31,000 / USD$1,050, four-week tuition: NT37,000 / USD$1,250. Elementary: two-week tuition NT29,500 / USD$1,000, four-week tuition: NT35,500 (USD$1,200). Online registration available, payment via wire transfer.
Summer camp info: http://www.ljjhps.tp.edu.tw/ischool/publish_page/44/
Commentary: Cathy was thrilled with the amount of activities her children were exposed to during the camp—not just language study but much, much more. She describes being “blown away” by the end-of-camp showcase, which featured singing and dancing performances by all the campers. She was impressed by how much her children got out of it, and their whole experience in Taiwan motivated her to step up Chinese instruction after they got back home to the US.
Looking for Fun and Play – Sarah
Sarah’s son, age 8, is reasonably fluent in Chinese and therefore she was looking for a play-based camp for him to meet local children and generally just play and have fun. Her family was only in Taipei for two weeks, so they were unable to take part in the longer-term camps.
Program: Full Day Camp at Taipei City Jhong Jheng Sports Center (中正夏令營-全日營) (other sports centers across Taipei also offer similar camps)
Class size and format: Full day (9:00am-6:30pm) sports camp including basketball, soccer, swimming, and Chinese yo-yo. Wednesday field trips to attractions around Taipei including farms and water parks. ~30 kids per class.
Language of instruction: Mandarin Chinese; no reading/writing required.
Duration and cost: Weekly in July and August. NT7,000 / USD$225 per week. Must register and pay onsite.
Summer camp info: http://www.tpejjsports.com.tw/zh-TW/news-content/id/786/
Commentary: Sarah reports that her son loved the camp, especially the food (bento boxes, selection of fruits and a hearty afternoon snack), but the ending time of 6:30pm makes for a long day and limited their ability to go out and enjoy other evening activities like visiting night markets because her son was too tired.
Please keep doing these!! I’d love to hear more experiences with Mandarin Daily News and NTNU’s summer camps too!