The Greenberg-Starr Department of Chinese Language and Literature offers courses in Mandarin Chinese language—including Classical Chinese and Chinese-language courses on Chinese society, literature, and culture—and courses taught in English on Chinese literature, film, and sociolinguistics.
Our curriculum fully meets the needs of students who want to learn to speak, understand, write, and read Mandarin at a high level of proficiency that will allow them to live and work in an entirely Chinese language environment.
The curriculum is also for students who want to study the world’s most widely spoken and written first language for its intrinsic beauty and interest, or for access to Chinese history and culture.
At Middlebury, the study of Mandarin Chinese may be combined with any other academic pursuit.
Students interested in the study of Chinese and China have access to a Chinese department with faculty who are scholars of Chinese literature and linguistics as well as experienced teachers of Mandarin Chinese.
Each year the Greenberg-Starr Department of Chinese Language and Literature offers language courses at five levels of instruction, from beginning Mandarin Chinese to senior seminars that teach advanced language while focusing on Chinese contemporary social issues, literature, and politics and business. Most students who study Mandarin at Middlebury have no background in the language, but we readily accommodate students who have learned some Chinese before college. Indeed, Middlebury offers its undergraduates access to unrivaled advanced language training: we offer six language classes at the fourth-year level or above, including a two-course sequence in Classical Chinese.
Our sequence of language courses, which for many students includes study in the summer Chinese School and a semester abroad in China, is designed to train students to read authentic Chinese-language texts, including web pages, magazine and newspaper articles, blog posts, white papers, letters, textbooks, and novels; to express themselves with sophistication, depth, and nuance in written Chinese; and to engage native speakers of Chinese fluently and naturally in the entire range of linguistic interaction, from casual conversation to serious discussion and debate.
We also offer courses taught in English on Chinese literature, film, linguistics, and culture that introduce to students to the inexhaustible richness of China’s literary and cultural past and the complexity and excitement of China’s literary and cultural present. In China, politicians and CEOs are often amateur poets, and any conversation in Chinese, whether on a college campus or in a company boardroom, can be expected to include literary allusion, and therefore students in our literature and culture courses not only learn to read closely, analyze carefully, and share what they think through thoughtful discussion and clear, effective writing but also gain cultural knowledge, insight, and skills that help them communicate in Chinese in more meaningful, productive, and rewarding fashion.
Chinese majors complete our sequence of language courses, take a selection of our courses on literature and culture, and undertake senior work on Chinese literature or culture that uses Chinese language primary and secondary materials. Many of our alumni live and work in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong and use their language skills daily.