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, and a weekend homestay with local host families 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.
"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)
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.
A year's worth of material is a lot to learn in two months, but the courses were structured so that it was definitely possible."
- Kathryn Van Etten (2017)
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 conversation 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, and history. In the past, cultural activities have included hands-on introductions to topics such as calligraphy, Chinese cuisine, traditional medicine, and Chinese opera. Recent excursions have included trips to Taiwan's capital, Taipei, as well as tours of Tainan's historic landmarks and ecologically rich local wetland environment.
Learning about traditional tea culture
Service learning activities within the local cummunity provide participants with the opportunity to interact more closely with Taiwanese people, better understand important societal issues, and reinforce communication skills in a variety of authentic contexts. Past service learning has included delivering meals to some of Tainan's oldest residents and visiting local high schools to introduce students to diverse aspects of American culture.
Students working with community volunteers to deliver lunch to local senior citizens.
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 private rooms in a dormitory within walking distance of the NCKU campus 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. 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 Chinese Language Center's experienced faculty and staff look forward to helping participants meet their language learning goals.
All of the teachers were very effective in helping my Chinese because even ones I had never met before knew my name and would ask me questions to help practice!
- Ellie Yeo (2017)
Taiwan Ministry of Education Scholarship
All U.S. students applying for AC Study Abroad scholarship funding for either program in Taiwan will automatically also be considered for additional scholarships of up to $2500, sponsored by the Taiwan Ministry of Education, awarded based on financial need and academic merit (pending final confirmation of grant renewal).
American Councils Scholarships
With support from a wide range of funders, American Councils has established several scholarships to support U.S. students engage in overseas study. All applicants to American Councils summer, semester, or academic-year overseas programs are eligible for partial scholarship awards from the American Councils Outbound Scholarship Fund, which include:
- AC Study Abroad Alumni Scholarship
- AC Study Abroad Diversity Scholarship
- AC Study Abroad Need-Based Scholarship
- Dan E. Davidson Fellowship
Awards are made on the basis of financial need, program compatibility, and academic merit, and typically range from $500 to $2500.
Applicants seeking additional funding for their trip may consider the following resources:
- The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship
- Freeman Awards for Study in Asia (Freeman-ASIA)
- Fund for Education Abroad (FEA)
Visit our Financial Aid page for more information on scholarships and funding opportunities through American Councils and outside sources.
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.