ACC End of the Semester Report
Out of 5
Teaching quality: 5
The engagingness of the course material: 5
The engagingness of class: 3
Living environment: 5
Outside of the classroom activity: 4
Overall, I liked ACC a lot. On one hand, my experiences were unique as the only 5th year in the program, however, on the other hand, because we were all living together, my social experiences are very similar to other students.
I can say for sure that being at ACC improved my Chinese ability. My reading, writing, and vocab bank has increased dramatically. As a native speaker, ACC 5th year was exactly the kind of structured language learning that I needed to make progress. However, I know that a lot of the students from other years found ACC's way of learning too structured and inflexible. They especially didn't like how ACC program did not give students very many chances to put their Chinese to practical use (because we were for the most part, memorizing vocab words every day).
One thing that I should stress about ACC is its language pledge. ACC has a very strict language pledge that for some reason, the students this semester did not follow it very well (I would even dare to say that we were probably the worst group in all of ACC history). ACC staff will tell you that the language pledge is the cornerstone of ACC Chinese education. You chose to attend this program knowing about the language pledge, and thus you should follow it. Additionally, if you choose not to, your grade will drop by a letter if you are caught speaking in English twice, and you will be expelled from the program if you are caught three times (one student was sent home with only 2 weeks left of the program).
I think there is great value is keeping the language pledge. Some students managed to do so all through the semester, and it was pretty obvious to everyone, teachers included, who had been sticking to the pledge and who had not. Students who did stick to the pledge really did improve by leaps and bounds while other students who were speaking in English all the time, did not have very dramatic improvements.
Although I am a strong advocate of the language pledge, I was not a student who stuck with the language pledge at all times. For me, the benefits of keeping the language pledge were few. In fact, by keeping with the language pledge, I actually started to unconsciously absorb other ACC student's foreign accent. Also, it is very difficult to speak to 2nd years and even 3rd years if the language pledge was maintained. Our group gave up on it fairly early on because 4th years essentially had to ignore their 2nd year friends.
In the end, I do not regret not keeping the language pledge because talking to students who spoke grammatically incorrect Chinese also caused me to pick up grammatically incorrect habits. However, if you are a future student who does not intend to keep the language pledge, please do not be a negative influence on the people around you and unknowingly pressure others to also violate the pledge. I think for many people there is great value is keeping to it.
The material at ACC, at least for 4th and 5th is quite engaging, however the repetitiveness of the teaching method can make class boring.
Tips of advice:
Go to office hours! The teachers are available in the dorm hotel, so not only are they super conveniently close, but it's also a great opportunity to practice speaking in Chinese and to get to know the teachers.
Buy a bike! It's like freedom on wheels.
Bali Gym membership: while I did not purchase gym membership at this gym down the street, everyone who did loved it