China not only boasts extraordinarily rich and diverse literary and cultural traditions going back thousands of years, it has also become one of the most powerful players on today's world stage. The principal gateway into the world of China, whether past or present, is through its language, and the Chinese major can expect to graduate with a high level of proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing modern standard (Mandarin) Chinese and with the cultural skills needed to communicate effectively in a Chinese environment. In addition, majors will also have acquired a solid familiarity with and appreciation of the landmarks of Chinese culture and civilization, including its history, literature, philosophy, religion and arts, as well as a deepened understanding of the rapidly changing cultures of greater China today.
The modern Chinese language curriculum is arranged in a five-year sequence of courses offering a balanced emphasis on listening, speaking, reading, and writing. A primary goal is that students be able to communicate fluently and accurately in appropriate social context as well as to read high quality authentic materials with the necessary aid of a dictionary and write short papers on designated topics, by the end of the fourth year.
The Literature & Culture
Apart from the wide range of courses offered through the Department, students are also encouraged to enhance their cultural knowledge by enrolling in China-related courses offered through other departments and programs, such as Anthropology, Art History, Film and Media Studies, History, Performing Arts, and Religious Studies. Majors are highly encouraged to participate in Washington University-approved summer, semester, or academic year study abroad programs in China, especially the Washington University Center at Fudan University in Shanghai, as an important way to develop both their practical knowledge and their cultural sensitivity.