This semester, Ming Chuan University will offer a short course in Chinese language and culture.
The classes are open to students, staff, faculty and the Saginaw community and will last six weeks.
Each class is two hours long and will be held during several time slots on Thursdays and Fridays to help for attendees to fit the classes into their schedules.
There is a $20 deposit for the class that will be fully refunded if the student attends at least four of the six classes. A certificate of completion will be given to those who attend all six classes.
The classes will be split into two parts. The first part of the class is a lesson on Chinese language, while the second part is a lesson on culture.
The language lessons will cover basics such as time and date, counting, greetings, how to ask for directions and how to order food in a restaurant.
In the past, the culture lesson has included activities such as decorative paper cutting, calligraphy and a contest to see who can use chopsticks to sort the most beans. This year, similar activities are planned, as well as some special holiday ones for Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day.
“It’s just like Christmas is here,” said Alan Hseih, an adjunct professor and staff advisor to the course, in reference to Chinese New Year. “The family gets together and has a big meal.”
There are also traditional rituals that come with it, like giving money in red envelopes for good luck, buying new clothes to symbolize a new beginning and avoiding the unlucky number four.
Hseih stated the importance of manners in Chinese culture, and that basic etiquette will be taught as well.
“Culture is a point we emphasize, how we talk, how we address people,” Hseih said. “When we eat, we have bowls of rice. You can’t leave the bowl on the table. You have to hold it. And we also use chopsticks, which is manners as well.”
The classes will be taught by students at Ming Chuan.
“This Chinese short course is actually part of our practicum,“ said Yi Hua Tsai, a second-year graduate student who teaches Chinese. “However, one of the reasons why we want to teach this course is that we would like to promote Chinese language as well as Chinese culture to students and faculty. We hope to interest people from here to learn different culture and language.”
Tsai believes the courses will be beneficial to students.
“I am looking forward to gaining more teaching experiences and also hope people who come to our classes would broaden their horizon by learning different culture and language,” Tsai said.
Jingcheng Wang, another second-year graduate student teaching Chinese, taught the class when it was offered previously.
“I am enjoying the students’ questions about the differences between Chinese and English,” Wang said. “Through the comparison between two languages, they can understand Chinese as a second language much better. In addition, it is also very interesting when the students not only focus on the language differences but also the cultural differences.”
The staff at Ming Chuan hope students will gain a better understanding of the world around them and effectively communicate in a multi-cultural world.
“First, they will be able to know some basic conversational language which they can use in daily life such as greetings, brief self-introduction, ordering food in a restaurant,” Wang said. “Another thing they can gain is about Chinese culture, such as food, business etiquette and calligraphy. The last thing I would like them to gain is a strong interest about learning Chinese and Chinese culture, which can encourage them to keep learning in the future.”
They also emphasize what an important role cultural knowledge can play when traveling and studying abroad.
“I hope students would broaden their horizon by learning a different culture and language, and further, to interest them to keep learning the language and even visit Chinese speaking countries one day,” Tsai said.