College of Arts and Sciences
Why study Chinese?
1.3 billion people speak Chinese as their native language, which means you would be able to communicate with that many more people once you have learned how to speak Chinese. More important than that, China has become an emerging economic power. As the 4th largest economy in the world, China is playing a more and more important role on the global economy. With the further development of the Chinese economy, and the continuous growth of the trade between China and the US, it is not hard to imagine that a knowledge of the Chinese language will be a big boost on any one’s resume. Mastering the language may greatly expand your job seeking opportunities.
But putting the most obvious and most pragmatic reasons aside, for those who are more culturally inclined, and those who simply want to expand their intellectual horizons by taking up a new language, learning Chinese will prove to be an equally enriching and engaging process, during which you will not only immerse in a culture that is more than 5000 years old, but you may even change your view on life, unwittingly perhaps, during your studies. Yes, learning a language is partly learning about a culture, and partly learning a new life philosophy.
Do not think you are simply mastering the Chinese writing system when you are memorizing the Chinese characters. By observing the structure of each character and reconstruct the same on paper, you are being trained (and you don’t even know it!) in the philosophy of moderation and balance -- the rule of the Golden Mean -- a philosophy of life which is so entrenched in the Chinese mind that it has become common sense, and is manifested in every aspect of our culture. Like a single drop of dew will reflect the light of the sun, every single Chinese character is a reflection of our culture and our life. Wouldn’t learning a totally new perspective on life fascinating?! And that’s only the beginning! Wait till you can read the sage Confucious’ works in the original and in his own words! Do not think Chinese is difficult and threatening because of its many hard to memorize characters and seemingly strange syntaxes. That is just an outsider’s view! Chinese can be surprisingly intuitive and simple! Let’s take conjugation as an example: in all Romanic languages, you have to not only memorize a verb, but also all its conjugated forms. For a new language learner, verb conjugations can be threateningly difficult and confusing. But mind this: there is NO conjugation at all in the Chinese language! This means you need only learn one verb and use it in all tenses without worrying about memorizing its conjugated form. How simple is that? And how clever! Chinese is also a very intuitive and succinct language: you may not find too many “four syllable adages” in English, but in Chinese they abound, and if you learn to use them properly, you gain people’s respect and likings and they “hear pearls jingle” as you talk!
The beauty and fun of the Chinese language goes on and on. But jump in and discover for yourself! With small classes and a congenial atmosphere, you will soon find your decision to take the Chinese language a wise and rewarding one!
Chinese is available as an elective.
The classes are a mixture of language acquisition, literature, and civilization courses. You can practice in our up-to-date computer lab with a variety of software, as well as Internet resources.
Because our classes are small, you will not be a nameless face in the crowd; you and your professors will get to know each other. You can also get acquainted with other students who share similar interests in our language clubs. They present opportunities for informal activities such as movies, cooking, and participation in the university’s International Bazaar.
And we may be able to offer a generous credit for advanced placement, a flexible range of classes to take, and opportunities for immersion study experiences abroad.
So come meet our faculty, explore our facilities, see what we have to offer, and discover the world at Western Illinois University.
- Ms Wenhong (Zhang) Teel
- Ms Caryn Morgan