University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

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University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby MidgetWarden » 11 Apr 2012, 17:47

Hi its long but I need some helpful people please

I am new to the island and thought I would use the opportunity to learn some Chinese. Not to go on and do a course but just for myself to help me get around on a day to day basis.

I enrolled in a university a language school. On enquiring about the course I was told that it would be all be thought in pinyin as well as Chinese characters but you could get by on the pinyin, and that you could pick and choose your class times. Sounded great so I enrolled paying my money for a 15 hour a week course over 12 weeks. On turning up on the first day they tell me I only have afternoon classes and no morning classes and if I want morning classes to come back in June they may have morning classes then but they cant so. Frustrated I just agreed to the afternoon classes and started what I thought would be an enjoyable experience.

It was not, The class consisted of Koreans, Japanese , and 2 other westerners who were all very nice people. So the first few days went OK with the pinyin been put on the board and English translation words etc. Then came week 2, and it all pretty much turned into Chinese characters only which I certainly could not read or understand by that stage so started to get lost. I asked can we use the pinyin also the response was a sharp "No I don't like pinyin" from the teacher.

I quizzed the Asian classmates how could they learn the characters that fast and they told me they have studied Chinese for 2 to 3 years before doing this class. I asked why did they put you in the beginners class, the response was this is where they put us. So the classes rolled on the I and the other westerner got more and more lost, the other westerner female seemed to learn it very fast and she was fine. Regardless how much we asked for the pinyin it was straight no and the homework was piling up into 5 or 6 hours a night of writing characters when all I wanted was to focus on my talking and understand people, not going on to study a masters in the university like 80% of the class.

So comes week 3 and the other western male drops out as he sees no point in wasting his time, which I kind of agreed with as at this point we were just a ball and chain on the other students who had studied Chinese for years. I said I will try and hang in but to be honest I was in the army for 3 years and I did not get shouted at as much as I did in that class on a daily basis. So for me it all came to down to the last 2 days of week 4 where I was struggling to answer a question and the teacher just interrupts and passes the question to one of the Koreans, and passes me over as shes goes around the class. I thought to myself that's a bit rude but ill let it go until Friday where I was answering a question and said 1 thing wrong when she screams "YOU DIDN'T REVIEW" to my response was " I did review and I haven't studied Chinese for 2 years prior and there is no point in getting angry over it". Which she says I'm not angry when she was going bat shit mental.

So after that I said I cant go back whats the point. Trying to compete with guys who have studied Chinese for 2 or 3 years and the only other person who was at my level left out of the same frustration. We discussed it with each other and felt we were a bit shafted on how we were put in the wrong class and had received no entry level exam and it was not worth the 680euro we paid, so we put our points forward in writing and asked to be refunded for the remaining classes.

This is where I need the help understanding. It was the oddest experience to have people behave like they were above us and how dare we ask for our money back. And they shall decide if we are allowed to receive our money back even though they have did not supply us with the product. I don't know much about consumer law in Taiwan but if that happened in Europe you would be entitled to your money back. We find out tomorrow if we get any cash back But we are unsure of how to proceed if they refuse to give it back. What are our options in this case, we feel a bit like they think they can take advantage of us because we are foreigners which really pisses me off.

So if anyone can give us some advice on how to proceed, we want to continue learning Chinese and need the money back to facilitate it. Our visas are not attached to the language school. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cheers MW
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby Feiren » 11 Apr 2012, 17:58

You can try filing a complaint with the Taipei City Consumer Protection Office:

Tel. 1999 ext. 7812 or 1950 direct line (Taipei city ONLY) or 2728-7812

They are at Taipei City Hall.

Northeast Wing, 9F, 1, Shifu Road,Xinyi District,Taipei,11008, Taiwan, R.O.C.

You should go in person. Bring all relevant documents and lots of patience.
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby bigduke6 » 11 Apr 2012, 18:05

The same thing happened to me back in the day, Could not make the morning class so they put me in the evening class which was way to advanced. Then they tried to blame me for lack of progress.
They did not want to refund my money, so I went the savage westerner route. Screamed and shouted in the reception area, threatened to come back and throw my toys everyday. They refunded. Not sure if this will work as I was not at a Uni language school.

Try to teach in a buxiban. Same thing. :ohreally:
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby Feiren » 11 Apr 2012, 18:08

I think you should try, but you should be aware that there are detailed rules concerning refunds for classes and you may not be eligible for one according to those rules. Also, they may think that your refusal to learn Chinese characters is a bit strange since most people in Taiwan think that is the point or is equivalent to learning Chinese. Good luck.

Don't yell and scream. Just patiently tell them that you will not leave until you get a refund and explain what happened to you to every student who comes in.
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby MidgetWarden » 11 Apr 2012, 18:39

Thanks for the reply's, I will try to reason with them tomorrow and see how that goes. I feel the fact that were 2 people with the same reasons looking for our money back we may stand a better chance. If that fails BURN IT DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby urodacus » 11 Apr 2012, 18:47

MidgetWarden wrote:I quizzed the Asian classmates how could they learn the characters that fast and they told me they have studied Chinese for 2 to 3 years before doing this class.



well, the Japanese and Koreans already know the characters as they're the same in their languages. Slight advantage there.

her refusal to teach Pinyin is stoopid: ask her to use bo po mo fo instead if she can't write pinyin.
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby ironlady » 11 Apr 2012, 20:56

12 weeks x 15 hours x what, NT$250 an hour at least? NT$45,000? Everybody likes to compare costs, but a lot of these university programs end up being a waste of money, if they won't work with you to give you stuff you can acquire.

If you get your money back, try a 10-hour block with me by Skype. It'll cost less than a quarter of what you shelled out for the uni, you'll be able to do something with the language at the end, and I use Pinyin. :D
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby Icon » 11 Apr 2012, 21:26

In the past, they had political reasons not to use pinyin. To refuse to do so now is nonsense.

That trick of the levels has to do more with untrained teachers. They have been teaching the same way 20 years, and are there because of their affiliations, not training, so, they are not capable of teaching true beginners. They cannot even teach in the target language, but need translation all the way. This has been a problem years on.

You have to stick to the contract: they refused to give you a placement test, did not offer classes in your schedule, refused to accommodate. As you have said, it is not a matter of visa, but really getting your value for the money. Do not dwell on the teacher's faults, though, it would be taboo to question the teacher here.
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby ironlady » 11 Apr 2012, 22:17

Icon wrote: They cannot even teach in the target language, but need translation all the way.


Translation does not necessarily make a bad teacher. Particularly for beginners, it is important to establish meaning for the learner, or else there's no benefit to a class over being thrown into a group of off-duty taxi drivers and told to listen. We use translation in CI-based teaching and it is extremely effective. It has to be used, not abuse, though. Chatting in English throughout class does make a bad teacher, and that's not uncommon in some language centers.

The main problem is simply numbers. There are more language centers now than before; there are probably not that many more students. They "can't" place students in classes with students of the same level (though beginners should not really be that much of a problem, as there are more of them than of any other level of learner). The issue, of course, is that they don't bother to be honest about their placement prospects, take your money, and then just hide behind the myth of "you didn't study enough."
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Re: University Language Center Shafted me, not the fun shafted, the bad shafted

Postby jimipresley » 11 Apr 2012, 22:34

ironlady wrote: The issue, of course, is that they don't bother to be honest about their placement prospects, take your money, and then just hide behind the myth of "you didn't study enough."

The buxiban industry has permeated all aspects of academia! :)
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