New Major Reflects Growing Interest in Chinese Language Program

Posted: June 6, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

As one of the most rapidly developing countries in the world, China has been playing a strong role in business, politics and finance in recent years. At the same time, it is home to a powerful and ancient culture known for its innovative artistic and scientific contributions.

Mason’s Chinese Language Program in the department of Modern and Classical Languages introduces students to China‚Äôs influence on American society. Reflecting the growing interest in the language and culture of this vast country, the program will offer a major in Chinese beginning this fall.

Since it began in fall 1999, the Chinese Language Program has offered courses at the elementary, intermediate and advanced levels. Literature and culture courses in English translation are also available for students who don’t have a Chinese language background.

The program offers a minor in Chinese that focuses on developing strong language skills, including oral communication and reading texts. Students are also introduced to Chinese culture and important works of Chinese literature.

The minor is especially valuable in combination with majors in business, computer science, international studies, anthropology, history, government, philosophy or another language.

Through Mason’s relationship with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States, students in the program are eligible to apply for a Chinese Government Scholarship.

“The Chinese Government Scholarship is important not only to provide students the opportunity to experience the Chinese culture firsthand, but it also helps attract students to study Chinese language and culture at Mason,” says Karl Zhang, assistant professor of Chinese in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages.

The scholarship, which is awarded to 50 U.S. students each year, gives scholars the opportunity to study in China for a year with all expenses paid. This year, two students from Mason received the scholarship.

Seniors Cody Swift, an anthropology major, and Clayton Richey, a philosophy major, will leave for China in August and return to Mason next summer. They will finish their final semester at Mason before graduating.

Swift will study at the Beijing Language and Culture University, while Richey will study at Fudan University in Shanghai. Both students will take Chinese language and culture courses and will be able to take courses in English related to their majors. Several trips to tour China are planned for them.

Students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher are eligible to apply for the scholarship. The process involves submitting an application, a transcript and a letter of recommendation from someone other than the student’s Chinese language instructor to a committee headed by Zhang.

After choosing one or two students to put forward, the committee submits an endorsement letter to the Chinese Embassy, which makes the final decision.

For more information about the Chinese Language Program, contact Zhang.

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