Courses & Admissions

1. What are CLI's admission requirements?

CLI welcomes students of all ages, backgrounds, and language levels to apply for admission. While CLI has no minimum GPA requirement, the GPA of students currently attending or recently graduated from college will be considered. The majority of college-level students at CLI have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. 

2. Does CLI require prior Chinese language study?
No. Students of all levels are welcome to apply.
3. Should I begin studying Chinese before I arrive in Tainan?

Although not required, beginning your Chinese language study prior to your arrival at CLI is a great way to hit the ground running. There are many Chinese language learning resources available online, including both free and paid services.

We encourage students who would like to pursue online study to enroll in CLI’s Online one-on-one courses for a seamless transition to other CLI programs upon arrival. We also recommend learning the basics of the pinyin system.

4. Can I arrive before my courses start?

Yes, but housing will not be provided until two days before your program begins. CLI will provide airport pick-up and drop-off service even if you wish to arrive early, and can also help you in finding accommodation until you can move into CLI's arranged accommodation.

5. How long will it take me to become fluent in Chinese?

The truth is, it depends. Many students reach advanced proficiency within a year; others progress more slowly. The road to fluency depends on the focus each individual dedicates to learning and using Chinese every day and his/her knack for languages. Every student is different.

Moreover, defining fluency is not a straightforward endeavor. One can be conversationally fluent in Chinese, but unable to read or write. And even within literacy, the ability to recognize characters is significantly simpler than recalling and writing those same 汉字 by hand. Fortunately computers and smartphones make this task much easier.

While traditional characters are used in Taiwan, you can elect to learn either traditional or simplified characters during your Immersion Program in Tainan.

The Chinese Ministry of Education has devised and refined a Chinese proficiency testing system, called HSK (Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì), that presents six levels. HSK 1 requires knowledge of 150 characters; HSK 2 – 300; HSK 3 – 600; HSK 4 – 1200; HSK 5 – 2500; and HSK 6 – 5000 Chinese characters. While the system can be useful for goal setting and measuring progress, it primarily tests written and listening ability, and can’t fully capture the stages required to achieve the fluidity in conversation. The equivalent of the HSK is TOFL (Test Of Chinese as a Foreign Language) or 華語文能力測驗 (Huáyǔwén Nénglì Cèyàn) in Chinese. This is Taiwan's national standardized test designed and developed by the National Taiwan Normal University. Instead of six levels, it consists of three different "bands" - A, B and C.

Learning the Chinese language can be thought of as progressing up an inverted pyramid. At the first level, the range of everyday words is actually quite limited. Picking up beginner Chinese is straightforward and achievable. Learn the pronouns, numbers, question words, key nouns, verbs, and adjectives, and memorize and often practice a few key grammatical structures, and you’ll move on to the second level in no time. As you move up the inverted pyramid, the height between levels is always constant, yet the breadth of vocabulary and topics continues to expand.

Each year, CLI welcomes many students who start from 零基础 and surpass HSK 3 in 3-4 months and HSK 5 in 8-12 months. HSK 6 generally takes two or more years of focused study.

The spectrum of learning speeds and aims is broad, and each student must find and walk their own path. CLI’s mission is to provide the best guidance, resources, and environment possible for you to achieve your highest goals.

Daily Life

1. What is the weather like in Tainan?

Apart from snow, Tainan's weather pretty much covers most of the spectrum and over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 14°C to 32°C and is rarely below 11°C or above 34°C. Though wherever you are in Taiwan, it is always advised to bring an umbrella!

You can split Tainan's into two 'seasons'– wet and dry. Tainan's wet season typically falls during the summer months, starting in May and ending in September, with the wettest month typically being August. The wet season is hot and oppressive, and the dry season is warm, humid, and mostly clear.  The month with the fewest wet days in Tainan is December.

The hottest month of the year in Tainan is July, with an average high of 32°C and low of 26°C, and the coldest month of the year in Tainan is January, with an average low of 14°C and high of 23°C.

2. What sort of clothing should I bring?

Because Tainan's temperature and weather patterns cover a wide range, it is advised that you bring clothing to fit most weather possibilities. No clothing for snow will be needed, but it is best to bring some warmer clothes for the winter months.

3. What type of personal toiletries are available in Taiwan?

Students are advised to carry a pack of tissues at all times while in China, as many public restrooms do not provide toilet paper. A wide variety of common sanitation products (e.g. toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc.) can be bought at Guilin’s supermarkets. These include a variety of Western brands.

4. How will I do my laundry?

Washing machines are available for use in your CLI residence and/or at a nearby laundromat.  Drying machines may not readily available, since throughout all of Taiwan, hanging clothes in the sun and soft breeze remains the method of drying clothes. Prepare to hang dry your clothes in a common space at your CLI residence.

5. What voltage is used in Taiwan? Should I bring a converter?

Taiwan operates on a 110V supply voltage and most modern devices such as computer and smartphone chargers already have built-in converters on their power adapters, but electric shavers and hair dryers often do not.

Check the voltage range on your device prior to your arrival – you can use your electric appliances in Taiwan if the standard voltage in your country is in between 110 - 127 V.

Not all plugs are compatible with Taiwanese outlets. If needed, a converter can be purchased in Taiwan.

6. Can I buy Western products in Tainan?

The majority of commonly used Western products can be found in Tainan.

7. Does Tainan have an international community?

Yes. Although Tainan's international community is still small, you can still find other foreigners from a myriad of different countries either working, studying or simply traveling in Tainan. That being said, Tainan is a great place to avoid contact with foreigners if so desired. It would be easy to spend an entire semester in Tainan without ever encountering a situation in which you need to speak English.

8. Does CLI housing have free Internet access?

Yes, all CLI hotels provide high speed wireless Internet, and many cafes and restaurants in Tainan have free WiFi. Internet speed in Tainan may not be at the same standard as your home country, but high speed 4G Internet is available in many places. 

If you do not want to bring your own computer to Taiwan, there are computer labs at local libraries and numerous 24-hour Internet cafes throughout Tainan.

Health & Safety

1. Are English speaking doctors available in Taiwan?

Yes. CLI students will have access to hospitals that have English speaking doctors available. In addition, if needed and/or requested, our bilingual international staff will provide students with language support during hospital visits of any kind.

2. I have pre-existing health conditions. Should I notify CLI of these prior to my arrival?

You are strongly encouraged to inform CLI of any pre-existing health conditions you may have prior to your arrival. You will have an opportunity to do so when completing CLI's Health Form during your enrollment process. This will allow us to better assist should any related issues arise.

3. Do I need vaccinations before coming to Taiwan?

Some students choose to receive certain vaccinations before coming to Taiwan. Please consult your family doctor concerning pre-departure health checks and vaccinations.

4. Can I brush my teeth using tap water in Tainan?

While a minority of students choose to brush their teeth with bottled water, it is safe to use tap water. However, please note that while tap water in Tainan goes through municipal purification processes, it is not potable. Brushing your teeth with tap water is safe, but drinking tap water is strongly discouraged.

5. Is Tainan a safe city?

Tainan is a remarkably safe city and a pleasant place to live. Locals are friendly and foreigners are treated particularly well, as they are viewed as guests. Tainan's local residents are known to go out of their way to assist foreigners with any needs or concerns that may arise.

6. Does CLI recommend international health insurance coverage for its students?

All CLI students are strongly encouraged to have international health insurance coverage during their stay in Taiwan, so you will need to do your own research in order to find a provider that best fits your needs.

7. What if I need to buy medicine in Tainan?

The majority of Western medicines, as well as many Eastern remedies, are conveniently available in many pharmacies and hospitals throughout Taiwan. CLI team members are happy to help students purchase any specific medicines they made need, provided these medicines are available for purchase in Taiwan. In addition, CLI team members are available 24/7 to assist students in emergency situations.

Eating & Drinking

1. Can I drink tap water?

We strongly discourage students from drinking tap water in Tainan. Although the tap water in Taipei is considered safe for consumption, the tap water in southern cities (such as Kaohsiung and Tainan) are generally not. Locals do not drink tap water unless it has been boiled first, so tap water is generally only used for cooking. Bottled water is safe and easily accessible.

2. I’m a vegetarian/vegan. Will I be OK in Tainan?

Absolutely! Taiwan is one of the most vegetarian and vegan-friendly countries in Asia and it is estimated that about 10% of the population follow a vegetarian / vegan diet. You will be able to find veggie friendly dishes in every night market and restaurant. The country's food labelling laws for vegetarian food are also quite strict, so food packages are usually also labelled with 全素 (vegan) or 蛋奶素 (ovo-lacto vegetarian) which makes grocery shopping a lot easier!

3. Is it safe to eat street food in Tainan?

Taiwan in general is notorious for night markets which sell a huge variety of delicacies. Taiwan's street food is safe to eat, though as with anything, we encourage students to use their own judgement and look at the sanitary practices of specific vendors.

4. I have allergies to certain foods. Will it be a problem avoiding such food products in Taiwan?
Please note that CLI must be made aware of any allergies or health conditions prior to your arrival in order to best accommodate your needs. All beginner students with allergies will be immediately taught the basic vocabulary needed to communicate this information in Chinese. Students with food allergies can easily avoid problems by communicating well and paying careful attention to what they eat, as they would in their home country.

Travel & Arrival

1. How will I make travel arrangements to Taiwan?

The main international airports in Taiwan are in Taipei – Taipei Songshan (TSA) and Taipei Taoyuan (TPE) airport so we recommend looking at flights from your home country to one of these two airports. Most very distant international journeys will likely include a layover in another country. There is also an airport in Tainan (TNN) but most people simply get the train from Taipei as it is both convenient and cheaper.

2. Does CLI provide airport pick-up and drop-off?

Yes. These services are provided free of charge to each CLI student. As soon as you have purchased your flight tickets, please complete CLI’s International Flight Form so that we can arrange a CLI representative to greet you at the airport.

3. How do I get around in Tainan? Are there taxis and public transportation?

Tainan's public bus system is very convenient and taxis are very inexpensive relative to the US dollar. You can easily walk by foot or even hire a bicycle for a leisurely ride. 

4. I would like to travel to other parts of Taiwan and/or Asia while I’m studying. Can CLI help?

CLI provides guidance, assistance, and advice for additional travel, but it is up to the student to make final travel and lodging arrangements. Taipei is a great hub to access the greater region, with non-stop flights to many major cities such as Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul and Tokyo.

Cost of Living

1. What is the cost of living in Tainan?

The cost of living in Taiwan is significantly lower than in Europe, the United States, and many other countries. And the cost of living in Tainan is generally lower than in Taipei.

One of the luxuries of being a student at CLI is that you can live comfortably on 800-1000 USD per month (depending on your lifestyle).

2. How much spending money should I bring?

Individual spending habits can vary greatly, but CLI students typically spend an average of about 200–300 USD per week in Tainan. For semester students, CLI recommends having ATM access to at least 1,200 USD at any given time throughout the semester.

3. Can I use ATMs in Taiwan?

ATMs are conveniently placed throughout the city of Tainan, especially in 7-11 and Family Mart. As in the US and Europe, many ATMs charge a fee for each transaction. 

4. How does money exchange work in Taiwan?

As of this writing in December 2022, the exchange rate is 1 USD to 30.98 NTD. The majority of Taiwanese banks provide currency exchange free of charge. Students must present their passport to the bank teller for this service.

Passport & Visa

1. Does CLI provide its students with a student visa?

Payments associated with visa processing are the responsibility of the student.

Short-term students are advised to obtain a tourist visa upon landing, which is applicable to the majority of citizens from Western countries. We recommend checking your local government website to view the entry requirements for Taiwan based on your nationality.