MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - The Middlebury College Language Schools will introduce a Master of Arts program in Chinese for 15 students in the summer of 2007.
According to the College Board and the Modern Languages Association, Chinese is one of the fastest growing areas of language study in the United States, both at the secondary and undergraduate levels. This year marks the inaugural year of the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) Chinese Language and Culture curriculum, and the first-ever AP exam in Chinese will be administered worldwide in May 2007.

Middlebury College Dean of Language Schools and Schools Abroad Michael E. Geisler said there are not nearly enough teachers of Chinese to meet the growing demand in U.S. high schools. “With over 90 years of experience in total-immersion teacher education, Middlebury is in a unique position to address this critical need for qualified teachers of Chinese,” he said.

With one of the world’s fastest growing economies, China is a crucial U.S. trading partner and competitor for commerce in the global marketplace. “Currently the number of Americans who speak Chinese pales in comparison with the number of Chinese who are fluent in English,” Geisler said. “This gives China a major advantage in bilateral relations and business transactions.”

The faculty for the first summer of the master’s program will include Jianhua Bai, professor of Chinese at Kenyon College and director of Middlebury’s Chinese School, and Cornelius C. Kubler, Stanfield professor of Asian studies at Williams College.

Enrollment in the program is projected to grow from 15 students in 2007 to 20 students in 2008 and 25 students in 2009. The master’s in Chinese is the first new master’s degree program offered by Middlebury College in 23 years.

Candidates for the degree will enroll in courses in pedagogy, second language acquisition, and culture and civilization; take advanced courses in the theory and application of teaching Chinese; and complete a rigorous practicum in teaching. Students can choose to complete the degree in four summers on the Middlebury campus or in two summers at Middlebury with an academic year in between at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, an affiliate of Middlebury College.

Each summer session of the program will be six weeks in duration and will coincide with the Chinese School’s nine-week intensive immersion program. Requirements for admission to the program include a bachelor’s degree with a major in Chinese language or equivalent, and the ability to demonstrate a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, writing and comprehending Mandarin Chinese.

For more information about the program, visit the Web site here, or contact the Middlebury College Chinese School at (802) 443-5520 or Chinese School Coordinator Anna Sun at sun@middlebury.edu.