The Chinese department offers courses that provide training in the Chinese language and in the critical appreciation of Chinese literature, both classical and modern.
Language instruction in the first two years emphasizes a solid grounding in the basic skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The focus of the third year of Chinese class is on students' acquisition of near-native fluency in spoken Chinese, competence in reading a variety of contemporary texts (with a dictionary), and the ability to make use of different registers and genres of Chinese in writing. A semester course in classical Chinese is also offered to 300-level students so they will be able to read classical texts in the original.
The literature offerings are designed to provide students with opportunities to read and analyze major genres of Chinese literature (poetry, prose, drama, narrative fiction) in terms of the historical, cultural, and theoretical contexts in which they were produced and consumed. The courses are taught in English, using texts in translation. Students may enroll in the courses as either literature or Chinese. An additional conference hour will be arranged for students wishing to read the original texts. Courses in related subjects, such as Chinese intellectual history, are also offered.
The department also participates in the interdisciplinary humanities course "Foundations of Chinese Civilization" (Humanities 231/232). These courses are a requirement for Chinese majors.
The Chinese House, a residence hall, is the center of extracurricular activities for students interested in Chinese culture. The resident Chinese language scholar offers tutoring, conversation sessions, and other assistance to students taking Chinese.