Students May Take Chinese Beginning in the Fall
Two courses in Chinese that focus on the acquisition of basic
language skills and cultural knowledge will be taught for the first
time at Alma College beginning in the fall.
Holly Liu, assistant professor of German and a native of Beijing, will teach the courses. A native Chinese language assistant also is being hired to teach language labs, as well as facilitate a “Chinese table” for students to practice their language skills over meals.
“We felt the need to offer students the opportunity to study a non-western language,” Liu says. “China has become an economic powerhouse and very involved politically on a global scale. Many American companies have branches in China.”
Holly Lie (standing) will teach Chinese courses.
hopes to draw students across many departments, including economics,
political science, history and business. She also has ordered
contemporary Chinese movies and a variety of books about Chinese
culture, history and literature for students interested in additional
“At Alma, we never teach a language for the sake of learning a language, but rather in a cultural context,” she says.
“This understanding makes a big difference in practical situations, such as interacting with the Chinese on a business level. You not only know how to speak the language, but can understand and adapt to mannerisms and cultural norms,” she says.
Liping Bu, professor of history, has taken students to China many times during spring terms. She sees offering Chinese as a great opportunity for students.
“Offering Chinese is fundamentally important for students to be able to strike up a conversation at places we visit and with ordinary Chinese on the street,” Bu says. “To be able to read a little bit would help immerse them into Chinese society while we are there.”
More and more colleges are offering language programs in Chinese, Liu says, and the demand in the field is high.
She is looking into starting a study abroad program with The Beijing Institute of Asian Studies at Peking University. The program would allow students to continue language studies and to have internships with American companies in China like Microsoft, Days Inn and CNN.
Alma’s Modern Languages Department also offers classes in French, German and Spanish.
Posted: Sat, April 12th, 2008 at 8:19AM