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Modern Languages offering fall course in Mandarin Chinese

By Ann Friou
University News Service
August 21, 2009

Mandarin Chinese, spoken by one-fifth of the world’s population, will be offered for academic credit this fall at Texas State University-San Marcos, through the Department of Modern Languages.

The courses are made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to Texas State’s Center for International Studies, supporting courses with an emphasis on Southeast Asia and China.

“Mandarin Chinese is a language of the future, given the fast development of the Chinese economy,” said Jennifer Ching-hui Hsiao, who will instruct the classes. “By learning Mandarin Chinese, students will gain access to a world of international business; international relations; Chinese art, history and culture; Eastern philosophy; martial arts; natural wonders; fine cuisine; cool tattoos and much more.”

Courses to be offered include Beginning Chinese I (Chinese 1410), Beginning Chinese II (Chinese 1420), and Intermediate Chinese (Chinese 2310). In all courses, listening, speaking, reading, and writing will be integrated with innovative instructional technology and Chinese cultural components. For instance, Chinese character strokes will be demonstrated through video clips to assist students’ recognition and writing, and Chinese typing will be introduced through free downloadable software. Cultural activities will introduce Chinese festivals, such as Moon Festival and Chinese New Year.

By the end of Chinese 1410, students should be able to:

  • master Pinyin, the Romanization sound system, so that they can correctly pronounce any Chinese character in Pinyin
  • know the difference between traditional and simplified written Chinese, and choose one as their writing style
  • accumulate a vocabulary of about 350 Chinese characters
  • comprehend simple sentences by listening
  • initiate simple conversations in Chinese on familiar subjects
  • perform a five-minute scripted skit in Chinese with a partner
  • be aware of basic aspects of social etiquette in Chinese society

Chinese 1420 (prerequisite Chinese 1410) continues the first year of study and introduces 350 more characters. Students will build solid communication skills as they learn to discuss topics in Chinese such as food, sports, travel, going to a party and renting an apartment. The course will help students recognize and write Chinese characters without relying solely on Pinyin.

Chinese 2310 (prerequisite Chinese 1420 or an acceptable score from a placement test) will provide advanced training in four Chinese language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Another 350 Chinese characters will be introduced, and students will learn to speak in more complex social situations, such as seeing a doctor, dating, renting an apartment, talking about sports, traveling and checking in at the airport. Students will view films, take field trips and write and present papers in Chinese on a chosen topic.

Hsiao is a doctoral candidate in foreign language education at the University of Texas-Austin. She has taught Chinese to college-level students in the U.S. for more than five years. Her specialization is teaching Chinese as a foreign language, and her research interests include social factors of learning Chinese in the U.S. and the language-learning identity of U.S. students in families where a dialect of Chinese is spoken.

Enrollment in the courses is open. Students with questions about the courses and enrollment eligibility should contact Jenniferhsiao@mail.utexas.edu.