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Courses in Beijing

All students are required to take the One-on-One Tutorial and the Experience Beijing classes as well as two elective classes selected from the choices below.  All students will have 16 hours of classes per week.

Elective course offerings are based, in part, on a minimum enrollment of three students. The maximum enrollment for all courses is eight students. At the discretion of the Program Director you may be required to enroll in Advanced Spoken Chinese as one of your two electives.

(Just click on a course title below to see the course description.)

Experience Beijing (体验北京) (Required)

The program’s namesake course, Experience Beijing provides an up-close examination of what constitutes modern Beijing. Having existed as a city for over 3,000 years and as the capital of China for over 600 years, Beijing’s historical significance is well-documented. Experience Beijing, however, takes students further than their history books – or even the daily news – can do, allowing students to interview the very people making these changes happen. Students spend three hours per week in the classroom, studying the most up-to-date facts about the various facets of the city. They spend another three hours per week visiting the places they discussed in class, taking lessons from local Chinese citizens at each location. Students visit the Silicon Valley of China, the largest Chinese Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet, and the rapidly-expanding Beijing metro system, among other places. After each visit, students come back to class and present on what they learned.

3 hours per week plus co-curricular activities

Text: A variety of primary and secondary sources of the instructor’s choosing under the supervision of the Program Director; some reading may be in English but all discussion and all written work is in Chinese.

One-on-One Tutorial (一对一) (Required)

The one-on-one is designed to bring the student’s four language skills to a higher level through in-depth exploration of a topic of the student’s choosing. Students discuss and exchange ideas with their teachers, read authentic materials (glossed with notes on vocabulary), work to master the terminology related to the given subject, conduct research and write essays. The selection of materials and the conduct of classroom instruction is individualized to match each student’s language level; as students progress in their study, they are expected to be able to discuss their subject with greater and greater fluency and in greater and greater depth. Students are also required to give oral presentations on their subject. In their presentations, students are expected to express their ideas clearly and use key terminology skillfully and appropriately. When appropriate given the subject matter, two or three times during the semester the instructors will arrange out of the classroom trips and/or invite guest speakers to the classroom.
4 hours per week
Texts and materials prepared by the instructor under the supervision of the Program Director

Modern Chinese Politics (当代中国政治)

Modern Chinese Politics is a dynamic course designed to expose students to the inner workings – as much as is researchable – of the Party and the government. Long regarded as a system behind closed doors, the Communist Party is receiving increased media attention as China rises to be a global power, and as domestic policy continues to influence foreign policy. Custom designed for MIC Beijing, the course’s specific goals are to help students understand China’s political system and Party organization, Chinese political theories and ideas, as well as the progress and challenges facing the Chinese political system amidst high speed economic growth. Given the sensitivity of the topic at hand, students are asked to be tactful when interacting with guest speakers. Primary sources are used as class materials, with which students carry out further research and analysis. Note that due to the use of these authentic materials, students below the intermediate high level are encouraged to consider alternate elective courses.  

5 hours per week
Text: Texts and materials prepared by the instructor under the supervision of the Program Director.

Contemporary Issues in China (热点话题)

In this class students engage in discussion and debate with their classmates on social issues of the day. Students in this class work to improve their ability to speak and write with increasing accuracy, fluency and sophistication about the issues that are the focus of schoolyard, workplace, dinner table, seminar and board room conversation in China. Students in the class in recent semesters have discussed romance and marriage in changing China, patterns of consumerism, challenges to the traditional Chinese system of education, the job market for recent college graduates, and the effects of globalization on youth culture. Students are able to discuss and debate only when they have mastered important grammatical patterns and vocabulary, and therefore there is constant attention in this class to language learning. Many of the readings for this class are taken from periodicals or the internet. If enrollment and differences in students’ language level permits, the class may be divided into two sections with each section targeting the specific linguistic needs of its students.
5 hours per week
Text: Texts and materials prepared by the instructor under the supervision of the Program Director.

Business Chinese (商务汉语)

This course introduces students to some of the specialized vocabulary, grammatical structures, and expressions encountered when doing business in China and gives students the foundation they need to continue to improve their language in a work or internship environment. The class takes a case study approach, and the cases studied vary semester to semester. Recent topics have included the government’s efforts to control a possible real estate bubble in China, China-Africa economic relations, alternative energy and the market for hybrid cars in China, the reasons for Best Buy’s failure to penetrate the Chinese market, the business model of a Chinese fast food restaurant, and internet buying and mass purchasing. The class aims to teach as much about business in China as is possible while always working to build students’ overall Chinese language skills. If enrollment and differences in students’ language level permits, the class may be divided into two sections with each section targeting the specific linguistic needs of its students.
5 hours per week
Text: Business Chinese for Success, and supplemental readings chosen by the instructor under the supervision of the Program Director

Advanced Spoken Chinese (高级口语)

This course is a Chinese language course that aims to improve students’ five language skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing, and fluency in cultural knowledge) while placing final emphasis on improving students’ colloquial oral expression. Command of grammar and vocabulary is necessary for oral fluency, however, the course requires students to do regular written homework. By improving their command of basic and sophisticated grammatical patterns and vocabulary, students are giving the opportunity to conduct conversations in various informal daily situations.
Students in the class are directed toward the goal of developing and strengthening their ability to express their own opinions and viewpoints in the style of Chinese appropriate to each given situation. Class activities include both directed drill to improve students’ pronunciation, intonation, and command of grammar and vocabulary and Q & A, conversation and discussion to improve the students’ ability to produce longer and longer turns of accurate and increasingly sophisticated Mandarin. If enrollment and differences in students’ language level permits, the class may be divided into two sections with each section targeting students’ specific needs.
5 hours per week
Textbooks: materials developed by schools in China faculty under the supervision of the Program Director.

Classical Chinese I (古代汉语1) (Fall)

This course is an introduction to wenyan (also referred to as “Gudai Hanyu” or “Ancient Chinese”), the written language of traditional China. Wenyan (Classical Chinese) is to modern Chinese as Latin is to the modern languages of Europe. In this course we will emphasize comprehension of the literal and metaphorical meanings of short wenyan texts. Our approach will include grammatical analysis and baihua (vernacular) translation: we will translate texts from Classical Chinese into modern Chinese. The class introduces students to the grace, economy and beauty of the classical written language of China and imparts to students a little of the common body of knowledge that all educated Chinese share and that is found in the many illuminating and delightful anecdotes, stories and lessons found in the Chinese classics. Discussion and instruction will be conducted entirely in modern Chinese. Normally offered only in the fall semester. Prerequisite: at least six semesters of rigorous college-level Chinese and/or the permission of the Program Director
5 hours per week
Text: Language of the Dragon, Cheng & Tsui, vol. 1.

Classical Chinese II (古代汉语2) (Spring)

A continuation of Classical Chinese I (see above). In this class students will read a wide selection of wenyan texts that sample the classics of ancient Chinese thought, including Confucius' Analects, the Daoist texts Laozi and Zhuangzi, Mohist arguments against war, Sunzi's The Art of War, and Legalist writings on law. Students will also learn to punctuate wenyan texts (which were originally unpunctuated) and compose sentences or short paragraphs in wenyan. All class discussion will be conducted in modern Chinese. Normally offered only in the spring semester.
Prerequisite: Classical Chinese I or the equivalent
5 hours per week

Text: Language of the Dragon, Cheng & Tsui, vols.1 and 2.

Selected Readings in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature (中国现当代小说)

In this class advanced Chinese language students are introduced to a range of works of modern (1917 to 1949) and contemporary (1949 to the present) Chinese literature . Most of the texts studied in the class are short stories that are widely read in China and/or revealing of important aspects of Chinese culture and history. Depending on students’ language level and interests, longer texts and/or texts in other genres (poetry, drama, oral story telling, prose nonfiction, film scripts) may also be introduced. All texts are selected to match students’ ability. Students will discuss the historical and cultural background of each work and discuss the craft and meaning of the plot, characters, and motifs of each work. Students should be prepared to do a good deal of reading, look up and learn some vocabulary on their own before each class, and write an essay in most weeks.
5 hours per week
Prerequisite: at least six semesters of rigorous college-level Chinese and/or the permission of the Program Director
Text: Modern and Contemporary Chinese Short Fiction, compiled by Middlebury School in China