FAQ about the Chinese Program

What are the requirements to major/minor in Chinese?

The BA in Chinese is a four-year degree. Please visit Major Requirements to view the requirements for a Chinese major, and Minor Requirements to view the requirements for a Chinese minor. For course descriptions, visit Courses or consult the General Catalog.

Where can I go to find more information about the UI Chinese Program?

There are a number of alternatives for those looking for additional information. You might take a moment to peruse the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures website. If you are in the Iowa City area feel free to stop in 111 Phillips Hall. Those who have specific questions might receive speedy responses to e-mail sent to instructors who teach in that area. Also, the Chinese Program Coordinator always welcomes questions from those eager to begin and/or continue their Chinese language study.

Is there a study abroad component/program?

The Chinese Program and the Department strongly encourages students to study abroad. The University of Iowa offers the Iowa in Tianjin Program for students to study in Tianjin, China during summers or regular semesters. In addition, UI participates with CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) as an Academic Consortium member institution. This means secure and accredited programs are already in place for students' study abroad in four exciting locations across greater China. Students can choose from Peking University in Beijing, Nanjing University in Nanjing, East China Normal University in Shanghai, and National Chengchi University in Taipei. A first and foremost source of information is Sterling Bacher in the Office of Study Abroad (335-0353), located in 1111 University Capitol Centre. Make sure to ask about scholarships and funds available to help underwrite the costs of travel.

Is more emphasis placed on speaking and listening or reading and writing?

Proficiency is the ultimate goal of our program. To achieve this goal the four skills mentioned above are integrated into a general proficiency model. Certainly, at the start of one's study speaking and listening play a prominent role. However, this is only the means to the continuation of language acquisition. In higher level classes, reading and writing (characters might look difficult, but there is actually a system involved) serve as catalysts for speaking and listening endeavors.

Those who already speak and understand Mandarin but do not read or write are encouraged to register for the Chinese Heritage class. In this course emphasis is placed on using student's Chinese abilities to further their proficiency.

Are scholarships available?

Naturally. The Department has a list of scholarships and fellowships available. If you are in or around Iowa City, applications can be picked up in 111 Phillips Hall when they are received. Make sure to inquire about the Stanley Fellowship and Cheng/Liu Scholarship.

What is expected of students during class?

We keep our class sizes small (5-15) with the explicit purpose of engaging our students with the Chinese language. Students participate in drills and activities, designed by the instructors, that allow students to communicate in Chinese. Students also enjoy weekly one on one interview sessions with instructors for more personal attention. In higher level classes, students read texts and discuss or present their ideas in spoken or written form. Because participation is so important it is necessary for students to come to each class.

Will I learn anything about Chinese culture?

Absolutely! Culture is an integral part of any language. Simply knowing the sounds which could be interpreted by listeners as "hello" might be poorly applied when cultural considerations are ignored. To speak Chinese proficiently, learners need to avoid undo attention, and can by applying appropriate cultural behavior. When the culture is ignored, the language is not learned.

Do I need to take a placement test?

Maybe. Placement tests are offered immediately prior to the start of each semester. If you have had some Chinese before or have experience with the language, please contact Dr. Helen Shen for an placement interview first. Based on the interview, a decision will be made regarding whether you should take a placement test. In general, placement tests are held on Friday morning around 10 am prior to the first day of classes. For detailed information, visit Chinese Placement Test.


For further inquiries, e-mail the Chinese Program Coordinator.