Study Abroad in China: Intensive Chinese Language in Beijing – Academics

Beijing: Fall & Spring Academic Requirements

All students enroll in a full load of intensive Chinese language classes. Classes are fast-paced and target every aspect of language skills. Lecture classes introduce new material. Drill classes reinforce accurate usage. One-on-one classes troubleshoot individual errors. One-on-two classes target fluency. Discussion classes practice real conversation. Language practicum takes students out of the classroom to speak with locals.

The exact combination of Chinese language classes depends on the student’s language level:

  • Beginning and intermediate students take one comprehensive core course.
    Core course: 280 total hours. 17 recommended credits.
  • Pre-advanced students take one core course and one elective (literature, business or newspaper).
    Core course: 224 total hours, 14 recommended credits. Elective: 56 total hours, 3 recommended credits.
  • Advanced students take one core course, a Classical Chinese course and one elective (literature, business, newspaper).
    Core: 182 total hours, 13 recommended credits. Classical Chinese: 42 total hours, 2 recommended credits. Elective: 56 total hours, 3 recommended credits.
  • High-advanced students take one core course, a Classical Chinese course and one elective (independent study, colloquial Chinese).
    Core: 182 total hours, 13 recommended credits. Classical Chinese: 42 total hours, 2 recommended credits. Elective: 56 total hours, 3 recommended credits.

View all course options and download syllabi.

Beijing: Summer Academic Requirements

All students enroll in a full load of intensive Chinese language classes. Classes are fast-paced and target every aspect of language skills. Small group and one-on-one practice sessions ensure exceptional levels of individual instruction. Students complete one year of Chinese language study in eight weeks. Out-of-classroom language activities require students to practice what they’re learning out in the city—with friends, roommates or local residents. 160 total hours. 8 recommended credits.

View all course options and download syllabi.

Beijing: January Term Academic Requirements

All students enroll in a full load of intensive Chinese language classes. Classes revolve around weekly themes, like Chinese holiday customs or political reform. Assignments frequently take students off campus to sites around Beijing for interactions with locals. Friday group performances (always a favorite!) allow students to show off new skills to teachers, roommates and peers. Some students enroll in JanTerm only. Many use JanTerm as a warm-up to the spring term that follows. JanTerm is open to students with at least three semesters of previous Chinese language study. 100 total hours. 5 recommended credits.

View all course options and download syllabi.

Classroom Matters

Prerequisites

There is no language prerequisite for the fall, spring and summer terms. Students of all Chinese language levels are welcome, including heritage learners and beginners. That said, given the intensive nature of the program and full-time language pledge, CET only accepts beginning-level students who can demonstrate their commitment and seriousness of academic purpose on their application.

The January Term is open to students with at least three semesters of previous Chinese language study.

Language Class Placement

Chinese language class placement is determined by the student’s application materials, including a letter of recommendation from language faculty, and the results of a placement exam taken on site. Adjustments are made during the first week of classes in consultation with the Academic Director.

Chinese Language Pledge

All students uphold a full-time Chinese language pledge (even beginners!) The language pledge can be challenging at first, but in the end well worth the struggle. In the words of one CET former student, “The bottom line is that a true language pledge goes a long way. In two weeks, my speaking ability has improved by leaps and bounds. It’s the key component to reaching fluency and understanding the culture….”

Because the language pledge depends on the commitment of the students, CET accepts only those who are excited for the challenge.

Academic Rigor

This is a program for students who have the grit, determination and desire to dedicate themselves to full-time Chinese language learning. Students take at least 20 class hours per week and can expect to spend at least one hour preparing for every hour spent in class. This curriculum, coupled with the program’s Chinese language pledge, results in an academic experience that is intense, but highly rewarding.

Heritage Learners

Every term, this program welcomes students who have acquired some Chinese language (usually speaking skills) from their home environment. In the past, CET has accommodated these students with character-writing tutorials. These tutorials, coupled with the regular CET curriculum, help students catch their writing skills up with their speaking skills.

Outside the Classroom

Activities & Extracurriculars

The program arranges excursions in and around the city, so that students can practice Chinese in new settings. Some activities are academic—students might head to a retirement center to interview senior citizens or visit an organic farm. Some are cultural—a day exploring the 798 Art district, an evening at the Peking Opera, or a Chinese calligraphy class. And some are just for fun (in Chinese, of course!)—a hike in the Fragrant Hills, a boat ride on Beijing’s old imperial canals, a ping pong class, or yoga on the Great Wall.

During the abbreviated summer and January terms, activities are designed to provide students fun ways to explore Beijing while working in some Chinese language practice. Students might practice bargaining at the flea market, learn to play mah-jong, cook dumplings with teachers or roommates, or star in a skit night.

“One part of my CET experience that I’ve enjoyed has been the optional outings that the CET staff organizes. Usually the activities are lots of fun, like attending an acrobatics performance or hiking along the Great Wall! The events are all free, which is awesome, but the best part is that you have a chance to hang out with all of your classmates and roommates.” – Eric Anderson, University of Minnesota, Beijing Fall 2013

Overnight Trip

Once each fall, summer and spring term, students depart Beijing and venture on an overnight excursion, known as “the historical trip.” This excursion is conducted entirely in Chinese, and takes students to a city of historical significance like Xi’an, Pingyao, Anyang or Nanjing. Part of the experience is the getting there. Students travel as locals do—by hard-sleeper or bullet train, and stay in simple, but comfortable hotels.