In the summer of 2019, HudsonWay Immersion School (HWIS) alumni, Ethan and Warren Hicks, age 15 and about to enter grade 10, had the opportunity to spend a summer at National Taiwan Normal University Mandarin summer camp. As a parent of two children who completed an immersion program through grade 5, I wanted to find a program that would challenge them, be taught in an engaging and progressive style, and offer cultural experiences to take advantage of the setting in Taiwan. To my delight, my kids really enjoyed their experience and one of them even said he “missed Taiwan” —this despite the pervasive high heat and humidity. They took the kids to a farm where they learned how to harvest tea, plant rice and navigate the Taiwan metro. These are photos I will treasure for a long time.
Here’s what they had to say:
Warren Hicks: I felt like this camp was fun because the teachers had fun activities and games daily. The teacher’s number one priority was students learning but also enjoying themselves at the same time. Class was not a high-pressure environment and the homework amount was fair. It didn’t take me more than 15 minutes each night. I learned a lot, and this class greatly improved my vocabulary and my potential to form sentences and have complex conversations with the teacher and other native speakers. I feel the environment of Taiwan really enhanced this camp experience, which made it second to none and not available anywhere else.
Ethan Hicks: I was super nervous when it came time to leave for the Taiwan trip. I had no idea what to expect because the website did not explain much. All I knew was that we were going to class 4 days a week from 9 to 3 and on Fridays, we had field trips. After going through this camp, I can confirm it is much like a camp back here in the USA. In the camp, the kids are given a "placement test" which determines what class they are put into (1-5), 5 being the highest. Almost all of the students are American. All of the students are learning Chinese and the new culture together. The classes are fun, but also very immersive, the teachers are great and ONLY speak Chinese. I left this camp with a much-needed refresher and boost to my Chinese skills after leaving HWIS.
However, there are things that a parent should consider to make this the optimal experience in my opinion:
a. It is VERY, VERY HOT, so make sure your child knows to stay hydrated.
b. It rains a lot so always carry an umbrella.
c. If your child is an only child, an experience like this can be very daunting, so doing it with a friend would help the child to adapt to the new environment.
d. PACK SNACKS. This is very important. The food that the school provides might not always be the favorite of your child so have them prepared with backup food.
e. Give them a phone/way of communicating. LINE is my recommendation since you can make free international calls and texts.
Parent and Founder, HudsonWay Immersion School