Written by: Sam Kominowski

During the Summer of 2022, I took the NYU Shanghai immersion program with around 10 other students. It is a 9 week (May 23 – July 21 for Summer of 2023) program where you can earn 8 credits worth of Chinese classes and complete 2 levels (equivalent to 2 semesters) of Chinese in one summer. You will live in the dorms with the other immersion program students and take classes Monday through Friday while ONLY speaking Chinese both in class and in the dorms. At the beginning, you have to sign a contract saying that if you speak English inside or outside the classroom (except for obvious exceptions such as family, emergencies, etc) you can lose points or be removed from the program. The program costs around $5000 USD but I can say that I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys learning Chinese and wants to improve their Chinese skills faster. It is also great to become closer to classmates and get a unique experience over the summer.

The immersion program was made up of 4 main parts: lessons, teaching assistant small lessons, activities, and group trips. It was over nine weeks broken up into two 4 week sessions with a one week break in between.

The lessons were taught by some of the NYU Shanghai Chinese teachers that we have during the semester. Daily classes were broken into three 50 minute sections, and were taught in a similar manner to the Chinese classes during the semester, albeit much smaller. The advanced program had 5 students, and Intermediate class had 7. We did the usual grammar and vocabulary practices but also had activities such as going up to the whiteboard and trying to write down a piece of dialogue as a group after listening to it. Whichever group could write down more would win. 

The TA lessons were 50 minute classes taught by TAs who came from universities in Shanghai and were excited to teach us Chinese. Those classes only have 2-3 students in them and are focused on what you need to improve the most in. For example, if I was struggling with a certain grammar structure in class, my teacher would inform the TA to focus on that grammar structure during the TA session. 

The program also included activities outside of class that were organized by a TA. There were a wide range of activities from calligraphy to mask making to mahjong. The activities were optional but I would highly recommend going as they will give you more chances to speak Chinese and interact with the awesome TAs!

The highlight of the program for me was the group trips. We would have a group trip every Friday and sometimes we would have larger trips. The Friday group trips were to locations around Shanghai such as shopping streets, museums, or restaurants. They were all included in the tuition that also included food and transportation. The larger trips were to Zhujiajiao (the Shanghai water town) and Chongming Island, just off the coast of Shanghai. The Chongming Island trip was my favorite part of the immersion program. We got to get out of the city for a day, experience the nature of a farm with ducks, chicken, pigs, etc, and we also got to go canoeing! We ended the trip with karaoke under the stars and then all drove back to Shanghai.

Overall, the immersion program was really rewarding and I think it helped improve my classmates and I’s Chinese immensely. With the immersion program in combination with living in Shanghai and going out to talk to people outside NYU Shanghai, we had students go from barely being able to talk in class to being able to have full conversations in Chinese with people who did not speak English. While we did have a lot of homework sometimes or sometimes the homework was just really hard, we worked through it together and, in the end, I think it was worth it. 

Now, lets answer some FAQs:

Q: “What was social life like during the immersion program?”

A: Sam Kominowski ‘25: Because it was such a small class, we all got really close. We went out everyday to get lunch, study in each other’s apartments, and explore Shanghai. On the weekends, we would travel or go out as the weather was really nice at night. It was like having a mini family in Shanghai because there were only 12 of us which I really liked!

Q: “What was the workload like”

A: Sam Kominowski ‘25: You would have a short dictation every day and then a packet or two a week. I would say it wasn’t too much but if you don’t enjoy learning Chinese it’s going to be a lot. If you enjoy the class, it won’t feel like too much and just make sure to get your work done! Also, the TA’s are great at helping with the packets and doing it with them during office hours will help you learn so much more than just doing it on your own.

Q: How, from a Chinese teacher’s perspective, is the Chinese Immersion program special? How does it affect students’ progress in Chinese in a way different from a regular Chinese classroom?

A: Instructor Li: “As a Chinese teacher, I think a Chinese immersion program could provide students a total-immersive language learning environment, allowing them to solve real-life problems using the target language by offering different language-based activities and field-trips in and out of class. Students could also have a total-immersive Chinese class to learn the target language and receive detailed feedback from the instructor. In addition, students could have more opportunities to interact with local people and understand Chinese society, as well as reflect on their previous language learning experience and their understanding of certain cultural phenomena.”

Q: “Why did you choose the immersion program over just waiting to take intermediate during the next school year?”

A: Ethan Pinto ‘25: “”I took the immersion program because I felt like I needed something to do over the summer and I wanted to make progress towards my minor in Chinese. I figured it would be a good way to accelerate my learning since I found the pace of semester long courses a little slow”

If you are interested in applying for the Immersion Program, the application deadline is FEBRUARY 19th at 11:59 p.m. For instructions on how to apply please check your NYU Email for additional details and if you have any questions please contact: [email protected]