Chinese 301

CHNS 301: Transitional Mandarin Chinese Language and Culture

Prerequisite: CHNS 101, 102, 201, and 202 with a grade of "C" or better, and approval by the Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

Credit Hours: (4) Four hours lecture and language practice

A continuation of Intermediate Chinese II with a balanced emphasis on listening, speaking, reading, writing, and culture.  This class is taught mostly in Chinese.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

Students continue their development of the five language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing, and culture) in the context of literary and cultural texts, films, and of current cultural materials.  The course material is adopting a cyclical arrangement with constant review of language structure and function together with important cultural information.  This course will further consolidate, expand and deepen students’ understanding of lexical items and sentence patterns like the previous four semesters.  It aims to develop the students’ communicative ability in Chinese by learning language structures, functions and related cultural knowledge as well as by training their listening, speaking, reading, writing and comparative skills. 

In reading the textual materials, students expand their vocabulary, refine their reading skills, and learn about culture.  Class discussions of the texts provide practice in speaking, and cultural materials on video or audio-tape engage the students in listening practice in a cultural context as well as do the discussions in class.  Weekly writing assignments on textual materials read or listened to enable students to develop their writing skills and offer an excellent opportunity for them to review and intensify their familiarity with Chinese grammar while learning about Chinese cultures.

Topics are selected to be interesting and practical from the students’ point of view.  Topics are expanded to more abstract and more societal phenomena to help students better understand old and current Chinese society and be able to discuss, compare, and analyze cultural differences.  Students will also be exposed to various communicative situations that require them to develop and use skills such as basic summary, description, discussion, debate, and report.  Again, cultural and other conversation topics covered will be determined by student interest, by availability of video programs and films, and by current news.  Specific situations, intentions, and topics might include:

  • Food choices and eating habits.
  • Philosophy about life, health and medicine.
  • Money, inflation, and unemployment.
  • (Im)migration
  • Gender and inequality.
  • Relationship between human and natural environment.
  • Ethnic diversity and discrimination.
  • Social and Cultural revolutions
  • Technology revolution.
  • Education systems
  • The concept of happiness and death.
  • Human relationship.
  • The Chinese presence in the United States.
  • Role playing when in the travel agency, in the bank, in the doctor’s office, in the restaurant, traveling, applying for a job, in the university, in the beauty parlor, etc.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Class instruction focuses on communication practice utilizing the situations, intentions, vocabulary, culture, and grammar introduced in a given chapter. Other activities include: grammar and vocabulary explanations, pronunciation practice, listening comprehension exercises, and writing.  Class is conducted mostly in the target language.

The class also exposes students to a wide variety of vocabulary prior, during or after the discussion, and practices specific grammatical structures as a review of previously learned concepts.  Students are both assisted in class with vocabulary acquisition and also checked on their comprehension of the new material. Students request assistance in class to clear up difficulties with morphology, syntax, or cultural content.  Class time is also spent on reading and discussing texts; listening and speaking in discussions; role playing of the assigned materials.  Some of the listening and speaking practice is done in small groups to personalize the oral contributions and also to maximize the amount of time spent speaking the target language.  The weekly writing assignments are closely related to the topics discussed in class.  Students are given opportunities to apply and compare the material learned in class with their personal experience in writing.  Students are encouraged to write longer and more cohesive essays in Chinese.  Students are also challenged to engage in critical thinking.  By end of the semester, students are required to submit a final book project, which consists of all the topics discussed and written throughout the semester. 

This class also uses supplemental material such as audio and video programs, texts from various sources (newspapers, magazines, literature, movie, etc) to introduce a topic for discussion.  Cultural and other conversation topics covered will be determined by student interest, by availability of video programs and films, and by current news.  These materials are reviewed and updated constantly to provide students with the most current cultural and social events in the Chinese speaking world.  Chinese issues and daily customs are presented as well. Students will be required to do presentations on special topics. All class work and assignments are done mostly in Chinese.

Targeted intentions are frequently practiced through role playing in small groups.  Examples of this work are then presented to the plenary group.  Video, audio, and Internet materials are used for listening comprehension practice and/or as material for conversation and informal discussion.  Some class time is reserved for the planning and presentation of individual or group projects.


Student Goals and Objectives of the Course

Speaking and listening goals (standardized ACTFL proficiency criteria)

In speaking, students will be able to handle successfully a number of interactive, task-oriented and social situations. They can ask and answer questions, initiate and respond to a variety of statements, maintain face-to-face conversation, and communicate in a wider variety of situations such as are covered in the textual materials, audio, and video. Students will develop listening skills that will enable them to understand learned utterances, longer and more complex sentence-length utterances, and will begin to understand main ideas and some facts from interactive exchanges and connected aural texts.

Students will develop oral and aural skills including communication strategies used by the average native speaker in the selected situations.  In addition, students develop an ability to converse on a broader range of topics by means of the expansion of cultural horizons and of prerequisite vocabulary in the audio and video programs and readings chosen. In general, students will be able to handle successfully a variety of more complicated, oral communicative tasks and social situations. They can talk about self and family members, can ask and answer questions and participate in conversations on topics beyond the most immediate needs. These students will generally be understood by sympathetic interlocutors. Students will be able to understand sentence-length utterances which consist of recombination of learned utterances on a variety of topics.  Students will be able to sustain understanding over longer stretches of connected discourse on a number of topics pertaining to different times and places.  Understanding will depend primarily on the familiarity of vocabulary encountered and the complexity of the morphology and syntax.

Reading and writing goals (standardized ACTFL proficiency criteria)

Students will develop reading skills that will enable them to read consistently with increased understanding connected texts dealing with a variety of social needs.  As regards writing, students will be able to meet a number of practical writing needs by communicating facts and ideas in a more complex collection of sentences. There is growing evidence of control of the syntax of complex sentences and inflectional morphology, such as declensions and conjugation.


Assessment Measures

The weekly writing assignments are graded for quantity, accuracy, and for organization; speaking is evaluated based on the participation in class, small group discussions and role play; progress in reading, vocabulary acquisition, cultural familiarity and in listening comprehension is evaluated in hourly exams and also on the final book project in a context in which students demonstrate their awareness of the diversity of Chinese-speaking cultures.

Based on standardized ACTFL proficiency criteria, students are also encouraged to compare and contrast languages and cultures. They discover patterns, make predictions, and analyze similarities and differences across languages and cultures. Students often come to understand their native language and culture better through such comparisons.  Throughout the semester, students are requested to do the following tasks:

  • Explain some similarities and differences between US American and Chinese culture that affect values, beliefs, and / or behaviors.

[Objective 1]

  • What contemporary issues affect China and what are the varying US American and Chinese perspectives? [Objective 2]
  •  With specific reference to examples of the Mandarin Chinese language, show how Chinese culture is embedded in the language?  [Objective 3]


Other Course Information

This class is not intended and not recommended for native speakers of Chinese.


Approval and Subsequent Reviews