Ming Chuan University hosts second session of Chinese Short Course

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The second session of Ming Chuan University’s Chinese Short Course, a six-week introduction to Mandarin Chinese and Chinese culture taught by graduate students, is set to begin this week.

Classes are offered Monday through Friday for six weeks, and each class meets once per week for two hours.

There is a $20 registration fee, which is refundable after four class sessions — for those attending four or more sessions, the short course is free.
All participants are placed into the course appropriate for their knowledge level, whether that is Chinese 1 or Chinese 2 and 3.

Classes meet on Mondays from 10 a.m. until noon and from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. On Tuesdays, they meet from 10 a.m. until noon and from 12:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. Classes meet on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. On Thursdays, classes meet from 10 a.m. until noon and from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. On Fridays, classes meet from 10 a.m. until noon, from 12:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m., and from 2:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Shelly Lai, a student pursuing a graduate degree in the Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (TCFL) program at Ming Chuan University’s Michigan campus, is an instructor of the short course.

“The purpose of the program is learning how to teach Chinese to the foreigner,” she said. “We learned a lot of teaching methods and culture differences. The short course is part of the internship for (me and my classmates) this semester. All of us tried hard to make the class perfect … and more suitable for the student’s needs. We integrated all the knowledge that we learned, and it really helps a lot while we are teaching.”

Kerry Segel, Chinese Short Course coordinator and professor of English, believes there are four main reasons students should learn Chinese.

The first is China’s size and influence. Segel said Chinese is the most commonly spoken first language in the world. In the United States, it is the third most common language after English and Spanish.

The second reason is the language’s local relevance.

“Many organizations have business and cultural relationships with the Chinese-speaking world in Asia,” he said. “The SVSU international student population includes a significant number of students from China and Taiwan. SVSU has relationships with several educational institutions in China and Taiwan, some of which involve student exchanges.”

The third reason is related to travel and employment. Not only are there cultural and educational reasons for traveling to the region, Segel said, but there are employment opportunities, too. Several students who have completed the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate program at SVSU are teaching English in China and Taiwan.

The last reason students should learn Chinese, Segel said, is because the University has a mission to promote universal and global understanding and involvement among its community.

“The Chinese Short Course … will provide an opening to the world’s largest language community that is available to all in the SVSU community who wish this experience,” he said.

Lai highlighted another reason related to the large number of Chinese students studying at SVSU. If American students learn the language, she said, they can reduce misunderstandings that might arise in their interactions with Chinese students.

“Chinese or the Asian cultures are really different from the Western culture,” she said. “When the students [are] learning Chinese, they are also learning about the Chinese culture. It might help them avoid doing something rude to their Asian classmates.”

Katelen Bennett, an international studies senior, enrolled in the first session of the short course.

“I attended the Chinese Corner that Ming Chuan University offered previously, and I’ve always been interested in East Asian cultures,” she said. “I plan on teaching English abroad after graduation, and since a vast majority of the languages of East Asia adopted Mandarin characters at one point or another, I thought it might be useful to have some familiarity with the language.”

The course consisted of five lessons and one review session.

“Each lesson introduced language learning through different communicative tasks like going to a hotel or traveling around Beijing,” Bennett said. “We started off the course by learning the four tones and moved on to use and reuse important phrases and words.”

Fifth-year graphic design student Matthew Bailey also enrolled in the first session of the short course.

He had previously taken a modern foreign languages course and wanted to continue his experience with the Chinese language.

“Chinese is important to learn,” he said. “The country is rising in size and influence, and I think learning any language is a good experience. Learning about other cultures gives interesting insight into your own culture as well as how cultures relate on a global scale.”

Morgan Bucko, a physics sophomore, had wanted to take the short course last year when it was offered, but it didn’t fit into her schedule.

“I wanted to take Chinese because I study Japanese and Chinese had a huge development of Japanese,” she said. “It seemed like a really fun way to learn more about the language I study, but also learn a completely new language all together.”

In the course, Bailey said he learned basic vocabulary and common phrases, such as “Where is the bathroom?” and “Please get me a cup of coffee.”

“It’s a lot like a survivalist course, so you learn phrases and words that would help you if and when you visit China or Taiwan,” Bucko said. “You can’t expect to learn the ins and outs of a language in a short course, but it is really informational despite the short amount of time we get.”

Bennett believes Mandarin is a language that is useful for anyone.

“There are so many more opportunities that open up when you’re familiar with another language, even if it’s simply knowing some of the sounds and simple phrases,” she said. “While I can’t expect a high level of fluency from such a short course, just the experience and exposure to the sounds of the language are helpful for anyone working with people who speak Chinese or are planning on working abroad.

“This course is especially useful for those planning on going to one of our sister universities in Taiwan or China to prepare them for the language and culture shock.”

“Learning Chinese has many benefits, especially since [the country] is a world power,” Bucko added. “If you want a little edge on your business major, it’s super beneficial to learn. It’s also an extremely old language that has left influences on the cultures around it. If you’re interested in this culture or even just looking to make yourself more well-rounded in your studies, you should study Chinese.”

For further information regarding the Chinese Short Course, visit the Ming Chuan University Michigan campus in Gilbertson Hall or contact Louise Chen at [email protected] or (989) 964-2497.