Learn to speak Chinese at SVSU

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The Ming Chaun University will offer a six-week Chinese course to SVSU students, faculty, staff, and alumni beginning the week of Jan. 23.

The classes will be an introduction to Chinese language as well as cultural elements.

“It’s close to Chinese New Year, so we will introduce it to the students,” said Sarah Lan, one of the students who will be teaching the course. “There’s specific greetings for New Year. The background story will also be taught, as well as taboos.”

The classes will be free aside from a refundable $20 deposit that is returned after the class is over, and participants will receive a certificate of completion when the course comes to a close.

The course is student-led, and the staff supervisor is Alan Hsieh. Students or faculty members who wish to partake in the Chinese course must attend one course a week.

The first week of class, Jan. 23 through Jan. 27, will be basic greetings in Chinese.

Some of the other events students will learn about in the first week are customs, such as what costumes they wear during holidays.

“We clean out the house on New Year’s Eve, so everything is brand new, and we like to wear new clothes on New Year’s Day,” Hsieh said.

The second week, students will learn about the alphabetical system, which lays a foundation for understanding the course. The number system will also be included in this session, as well as superstitions.

For example, in China, four is considered an unlucky number because the pronunciation is similar to the word they use for death.

The third week of class consists of learning the words for the days, months, and years. The Chinese Zodiac will also be included. Since the Chinese New Year festivities end the same week, students will learn about the festivals in China.

According to Debbie Chen, an assistant instructor for the course, the fourth week of classes will include telling time as well as etiquette.

“We will introduce how we give our gifts, taboos, and what is suitable to give your friends,” she said.
Willie Yen, assistant teacher for the course, expanded on that notion.

“Some gifts that are acceptable here may be offensive in Chinese society, like a clock or an umbrella,” Yen said.

Yen added that students will learn the fundamentals of the Chinese language and culture in the course.

“The overall goal by the end of the class is for students to communicate in Chinese in a functional way and broaden their cultural awareness,” Yen said.

The classes will be held in GN107, which will be decorated with elements of Chinese culture, like calligraphy, teapots, chopsticks and traditional children’s toys, so students will feel more immersed in Chinese culture.

To join the classes, visit the Ming Chaun office before Jan. 27, send an email to Alan Hsieh at or call 989-964-2497.