Belmont University’s Chinese program is growing this year with a Chinese Language Summer Institute and a book donation award to immerse students in Chinese language and culture.
“More Chinese language speakers will be required to facilitate and support future commercial and political relationships, both in China and in the U.S. The professional opportunities for Americans who speak Chinese are on a skyrocketing scale,” said Qingjun Li, assistant professor of Asian Studies and Chinese Language.
Twenty students have registered for the Chinese Language Summer Institute, a six-week program to begin in May, Li said. Students will take elementary Chinese for two weeks at Belmont, followed by a month-long study abroad trip to mainland China and Hong Kong. The institute offers students up to 12 credit hours, with two Chinese courses and a choice from four electives: Third Tear Writing, Asian Humanities, Junior Cornerstone and International Business. The classes will be taught by Belmont and Zhengzhou University professors.
Li said Mandarin, the first language of more than 20 percent of the world’s population, is becoming an increasingly important language because of China’s growing economy. The country has the world’s second largest economy and is predicted to take the No. 1 spot from the United States in the next two decades. Business Week has said that learning Chinese is a “resume-builder,” calling it “the most advantageous foreign language for business persons to acquire.”
“Over 35 million people worldwide are learning Chinese, and over 2,500 universities in 100 countries are teaching Chinese. Just about everyone knows that China is one of the largest trading partners of the United States, but few people may realize that over 16,000 U.S. companies do business in China and have long-term investments there. It might be a surprise to learn that China is also the second largest export destination for Tennessee merchandise,” Li said.
Through the Chinese Language Summer Institute, students will receive the equivalent of one year of Chinese language education because of its immersion program.
“Throughout the whole trip, we will combine training and practice into their daily lives so our students can apply what they have learned,” said Li, who taught English as a foreign language at Zhengzhou University for 16 years. “Students will experience the bus system to get to destinations, use their language skills and read signs to find their way back. I will help them go to restaurants and order food in Chinese and communicate with simple Chinese words. I will arrange for scavenger hunt at a Chinese grocery store where the person will not speak English.”
The study aboard trip also will include sightseeing to the Great Wall, Temple Of Heaven, Summer Place, museums and a business visit.
China’s Ministry of Education Honors Belmont Chinese Program
Students in Nashville also can experience Chinese culture through more than 500 copies of books, dictionaries, maps of China, DVDs, Chinese learning software packages, teaching posters as well as reference books for Chinese culture, history and philosophy that the University received from China’s Ministry of Education and Culture.
“Having these great resources will strengthen what our faculty can do with our students who are taking Chinese,” said Director of Asian Studies Dr. Ronnie Littlejohn.
The book donation award came from Hanban, which is the executive body of the Chinese Language Council International, Ministry of Education of China. Hanban is most notable for its worldwide program of Confucius Institutes that aim to promote Chinese language and culture, support local Chinese teaching internationally, and facilitate cultural exchanges. It sponsors the Chinese Bridge program as well, which is a competition in Chinese proficiency for non-native speakers. There are more than 80 Confucius Institutes in the United States and 353 established in 104 countries and regions in the world.
At Belmont, students may complete a minor in Chinese language. Recent changes in Belmont’s International Business degree requires all students take a foreign language.