Podcast: “Taiwan Talk“ – I really love listening to podcasts and Taiwan Talk from ICRT is an English language podcast that features new stories about Taiwan. I find them to be interesting and a good way to keep up to date with some of what’s happening in Taiwan.
Toastmasters Clubs in Taiwan – Toastmasters is a club for people who want to practice and improve their public speaking skills. Besides practicing public speaking, in Taiwan, many foreigners join Toastmasters to network, meet new people, or practice their Chinese. Likewise, many local Taiwanese people join for similar reasons, except to practice Chinese. Find a club that matches what you’re looking for. I was a member of “Taiwan Toastmasters (台灣雙聲代國際演講會)”, a bilingual (Chinese/English) Toastmasters Club.
China Youth Corps (救國團)– a great place to take extracurricular classes for fun. They are a community non-profit organization that offers classes catered for youth, people who are retired, and people who want to learn a new skill/trade. In my opinion, their classes are great for people who want to try something completely new (such as dancing, arts and crafts, cooking, and playing an instrument) for several reasons: 1) Their classes are all quite affordable 2) Low time commitment per week, particularly good for those working full-time 3) most of their classes are for beginners so everyone who signs up for classes is new, which creates a much less intimidating atmosphere than, for example, a professional dance studio or martial arts center. They also offer trips during winter, spring, and summer vacation to different parts of Taiwan as well as overseas. They have offices in most cities in Taiwan. Classes listed don’t always open, depending on whether or not there are enough people enrolled. All classes are conducted in Mandarin,s o if you don’t know any Mandarin, the classes probably won’t be very accessible for you. However, from my experience, if you know some basic Mandarin (and are in the process of learning), this can be a great way for you to immerse yourself into a Mandarin-speaking environment while using Mandarin to learn and take part in an interesting, hands-on activity, rather than simply learning textbook language. So far, I’ve taken classes on coffee, cold-process soapmaking, and wing chun.
University of Taipei (臺北市立大學)– where I teach English. Historically offered vocational training for future teachers. Has been moving towards a more generic, all-encompassing university.
National Normal Taiwan University (國立臺灣師範大學) – where I’m studying for my Phd in TESOL. Known to have the best TESOL program in Taiwan. Also popular for it’s Chinese classes at their Mandarin Training Center (MTC), which is where many foreigners go to learn Mandarin in Taiwan. The MTC has also published various Mandarin textbooks often used in Chinese classes as well as created the TOCFL (Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language) exam, which is the Mandarin Chinese equivalent of the infamous TOEFL.
Chinese-English Dictionary Apps
Hanping Chinese Dictionary: This is the first Chinese-English dictionary I used when I had an Android phone and I found it very useful. Best part is that it allows various forms of input pinyin, zhuyin, handwritten Chinese characters, or English words. This is important because sometimes, you don’t always know how a Chinese character is phonetically spelled or you know the phonetic spelling but you don’t know what the word looks like. (Only available for Android users)
Pleco Chinese Dictionary: After I switched to an iPhone, I started using Pleco and I like it even better than Hanping. It seems like Pleco is the popular “go-to” Chinese dictionary app for Chinese-learners in Taiwan but that’s just based on my experience asking around. It also allows for various forms of Chinese input and it offers more definitions than Hanping. (Available for both Android and iOS)
Omniglot for Taiwanese – Omniglot offers a very accessible introduction to Taiwanese, both in terms of history, culture, and linguistic elements. They also offer a pretty extensive list of links for learning Taiwanese and online Taiwanese dictionaries.
Modern Taiwan Language – created by Dr. Liim Keahioong, a professor at Cheng-Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan. The website is supposed to be a guide for learning Taiwanese but I find it to be a bit confusing because of it’s emphasis on the linguistic aspects of Taiwanese (such as the romanization and phonology of Taiwanese). If you prefer studying language from a linguist’s perspective, then you’ll like this resource.
Learning Taiwanese Sign Language
“聽聽看” – a weekly show on Taiwan’s Public Television Service (公視) featuring news stories, language learning skits, and interviews related to Taiwanese Sign Language and the Taiwanese deaf community. You can also watch clips of their show on Youtube (such as this one).
TSL Online Dictionary – created by researchers from National Chung Cheng University. Contains a video and Chinese/English descriptions of each sign.
“iSign”– created by the Chinese Deaf Association, R.O.C. It offers a Taiwanese Sign Language dictionary. The website can be a bit difficult to navigate, especially if you can’t read Chinese.
“手語大師 1” – a beginner’s level Taiwanese Sign Language textbook. Mostly acts as just a “picture/sign to word” dictionary. Does include both Chinese and English definitions and available in most large bookstores such as Eslite.
“我的第一本手語書”– another beginner’s level Taiwanese Sign Language textbook. Very similar to “手語大師 1”. Also includes English and Chinese definitions of signs and available in most large bookstores, such as Eslite.
China Youth Corps – see my description above under the “Living in Taiwan” section for a general idea of what China Youth Corps is. Their Taiwanese Sign Language classes aren’t always offered – it depends on location and number of students enrolled.
Learning American Sign Language
American Sign Language University – an amazingly comprehensive ASL resource website, especially for self-learners, created by Dr. Bill Vicars, a full-time ASL instructor at California State University, Sacramento. While most ASL resource websites only include dictionaries, this website includes full lessons that you can watch on video, practice while you’re watching, and review with exercise. The instructor also actively answers questions that his viewers ask him and posts them as updates to each lesson. I highly recommend this as a resource for self-learning ASL.
ASL Dictionary App – this is an ASL Dictionary App that I use and it’s aboslutely great. It’s quite comprehensive and I found it to be worth the price I paid for it. (Available for Android and iOS.)
Youtube: Rob Nielson – an ASL instructor that posts videos teaching ASL on Youtube. I like his approach because he doesn’t just translate from sign to English word. Instead, he puts his lessons into context and uses the signs in a story based around a theme.
DeafTV – online videos that use American Sign Language