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 employ different registers and genres of Chinese in their 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. Another semester course in the fourth year completes the cycle of Chinese language training at the undergraduate level.
The literature offerings are designed to provide students with opportunities to read with critical insight all the major genres of Chinese literature in the historical, cultural, and theoretical contexts of the relevant texts. 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 participates in the interdisciplinary humanities course (Humanities 230) Foundations of Chinese Civilization, which is a required course for Chinese majors. A description of the course can be found in the humanities section of this catalog.
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.
The importance of a period of total immersion in a target-language environment cannot be overemphasized for learners of Chinese. Chinese majors are strongly encouraged to apply to Reed-sponsored study programs in China. The Chinese department assists in the arrangement of such study trips and assesses the transcripts brought back from overseas for credit transfer.