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Courses in Kunming

All students are required to take the One-on-One Tutorial and the Kunming Impressions 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 enrollment, requiring a minimum of three students. Each course will have a maximum of 8 students. Depending on your language level, you may be required to enroll in Developing Chinese Fluency.

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

One-on-One Tutorial 一对一专题研究 (Required)

The one-on-one is designed to bring the student’s four language skills to a higher level through exploring in-depth on a topic of the student’s own choosing. The course emphasizes discussing and exchanging ideas with the teacher, reading authentic materials, mastering the terminology related to the chosen subject, and writing well-researched essays. As they progress in their studies, students are expected to be able to discuss their subject in greater and greater detail. Students are also expected to prepare formal presentations on their subject. In their presentations, students are expected to express their ideas clearly and are to use key terminologies skillfully and appropriately. Students also write research essays, and are expected to write with clarity, accuracy, and depth. The course is also combined with topic-related class trips whose frequency depends on the course topic.

4 hours per week

Reading materials are prepared by tutors in consultation with the Director.

Kunming Impressions 昆明印象 (Required)

The goal of this course is to help students gain a better understanding of Kunming by conducting an in-depth study on a variety of topics which cover many aspects of the city and its outlying areas, such as political and financial figures, education, current social concerns, business practices and work ethics, etc. Students are required to conduct interviews and collect information from the locals in order to have an in-depth discussion on each topic. This course is also designed to be a language course to enhance students’ vocabulary and speaking ability at the advanced-level.

4 hours per week

Lower level students may be required to take a writing and speaking course in conjunction with this course.

Textbook and course materials compiled by School in China faculty.


Yunnan's Ethnic Minorities: Anthropological Perspectives

Yunnan Province is an important research site for anthropological field work due to its diverse ethnic cultures. Using the rich ethnic presence in the province and the capital city, this course provides a thick description of Yunnan’s ethnic cultures and practices, in hopes of gaining a better understanding of its unique culture and the impacts resulting from globalization and China’s ethnic policy. This is a content course conducted in Chinese. The topics include religions, funerals, bilingual education, and economic impact on indigenous cultures. Class-related field trips, interviews, and additional readings are mandatory. Advanced students only.

4 hours per week

Textbook and course materials compiled by School in China faculty.

China’s Environment and Development 中国的环境与发展

This course introduces the environmental issues that have emerged in the past twenty years along with China’s fast economic development, to help students to gain a general understanding of environmental policies and practices in modern China. The course pays particular attention to the particular surroundings and challenges of Yunnan Province. Topics to be discussed include the implementation of environmental laws and regulations, treatment of water pollution, food safety, biodiversity and deterioration of ecological systems, hydropower projects, and heavy metal pollution, etc. Students are also required to use their knowledge to build a greener and sustainable Middlebury Kunming program and share their environmental protection education with their Chinese roommates and the local community. This is a content course conducted completely in Chinese. Advanced Mid and above students only (by ACTFL OPI standard).

4 hours per week

Textbook compiled by School in China faculty


Business Chinese 商务汉语

This course aims to enhance students' language skills in a business context and to promote their understanding about the business environment and culture in contemporary China. The text is developed from real business cases from real multinational companies that have successfully made inroads into the Chinese market.  The second part of the course will provide an overview of China's changing macro-environment, while real business cases let us examine individual Chinese companies and their development in the new millennium. By the end of the semester, students are expected to 1) enhance their cultural awareness of contemporary China and the Chinese business world; 2) gain vocabulary and fluency in Chinese in order to function more confidently and comfortably in real business settings; 3) access business news and information in Chinese; 4) give business presentation in Chinese.

Textbooks: Business Chinese for Success (成功之道), Peking University Press, 2003; Thirty Years of China Business, CITIC Press, 2007.

Newspaper Reading 新闻阅读

In this class, students will learn the expressions and patterns that are customarily used in Chinese newspapers and periodicals. Students will be trained in the basic skills required for reading Chinese newspapers. Discussion plays a key role in this class, as students will be required react to the contemporary issues they will be reading about.

4 hours per week

Text: Materials compiled by School in China faculty, additional primary source materials.


Contemporary Issues in China 当代社会话题

This class uses the popular 2009 TV series Woju 蜗居 as a background to discuss contemporary social issues. Students will discuss topics such as China’s real estate market, urban migration, young people’s perspectives on love, and urban modernization. This class will also teach current vocabulary and idioms, with a focus on common verbal expressions. By the end of the semester, students are expected to understand the younger generation’s concerns about modern Chinese social issues and be able to discuss their opinions using a variety of expressions.

4 hours per week

Text: 《当代社会话题》, compiled by the School in China faculty.


Developing Chinese Fluency 中级汉语口语:沟通、描述和比较

This course is designed to bridge the gap between the intermediate and advanced levels of Chinese for those students who are less confident in communicating with the locals in Chinese. This course aims to train students’ communication skill as well as to expand intermediate learners’ vocabulary systematically, in order to help them achieve advanced level of oral proficiency- particularly in the areas of description, comparison, and introduction- in a relatively short period of time.

5 hours per week

Text: Developing Chinese Fluency 《表达:中级-高级中文教程》, by Phylis Zhang 张霓. CENGAGE Learning, 2013.

Classical Chinese I & II 古代漢語

This course is for advanced students only. Classical Chinese I focuses on the learning of grammatical function words and syntactic structure in Classical Chinese. The texts are selected brief excerpts from classical sources. Students are expected to translate texts of Classical Chinese into both modern Chinese and English. In Classical Chinese II (spring semester only), students will read a wide selection of texts from the classics of ancient Chinese thought, including Confucius’ Analects, Mencius, orthodox Confucian texts, Daoist texts by Laozi and Zhuangzi, and Sunzi’s The Art of War. Students will also read famous stories and poems post Han period during the 2nd half of the semester. All class discussion will be conducted in modern Chinese.

4 hours per week

Text: Classical Chinese: A Functional Approach 《文言章句》, by Kai Li and James Erwin Dew, Cheng & Tsui, 2009; Language of the Dragon2: A Classical Chinese Reader 《龍文墨影》, by Gregory Chiang, Cheng & Tsui, 1999.