Courses of a Chinese language undergraduate student

As most of you know, I’m studying a undergraduate degree in Chinese language at the Sun Yat-Sen University. There isn’t really many full-time Chinese language students in the blogosphere, but perhaps some of you are interested to hear what kind of courses I have.

I’m on the third year of my studies and chose Teaching Chinese “major”. The official name of my major is Chinese language, but my degree also includes some courses about teaching Chinese to foreigners. Other option was Business Chinese, but I thought Teaching Chinese is a better pick for me.

Let’s take a look at the courses!

Basic language courses

口语, Spoken Chinese

My teaching-Chinese-group has only four students so for spoken Chinese and comprehensive Chinese we were put on the same class with advanced non-degree students. There are over 20 students in total which is too much for spoken Chinese course. Even though the aim for the course is to learn to make presentations, most of our time is spend on dialogue. There just isn’t enough time to let us all make more than one or two presentations this semester.

The level of the course (not the students’) seems to be lower than my spoken Chinese course last semester, where we had presentations every other week. At the moment this course is the one I’m least happy with.

综合, Comprehensive Chinese

This is the basic core course which includes vocabulary, reading and grammar. There is 50-60 new words in every lesson and we learn maybe one lesson per week. Our teacher is quite demanding and she wants us to be well prepared for every class. She asks lots of questions from students and it’s not nice when you have to admit you don’t know because you weren’t prepared.


Our goal for the course is to learn to write opinion pieces, essays that shows our opinion about something. We will write ten essays during the semester and grades from them will have an effect on the final grade. The same teacher use to teach me Cantonese last year, but seems to be good at teaching other subjects as well. This course is only for my group so there is always maximum of four students at class.

Teaching Chinese special courses

对外汉语技能教学, Teaching Chinese for foreigners(teaching different courses)

On this course we learn how to teach different courses to foreigners. We learn on what to pay attention to when teaching comprehensive Chinese, spoken Chinese, listening , reading and (if we have time) writing. During the semester we will also learn to make lesson plans.

语言学概论, Introduction to linguistics

Our teacher said that this course’s aim is to understand languages, including our own, a little bit better. The teacher always asks a lot of questions about our own native languages and sometimes I find it hard to answer. I have never thought about Finnish in that level and this course makes me think in a new way.

现代汉语, Modern Chinese

This is an demanding, but interesting course. It teaches us more about the language we have been learning for years, it teaches what is Chinese language is really about. This semester we will concentrate on aspects of spoken Chinese and vocabulary. Other parts of the language will come up on a different course next semester. With this course I hope I would have learned the grammar terms well when I was in high school, now I finally have to learn what attribute means.

对外汉语教学引论, Teaching Chinese for foreigners

I’m not sure what would be the proper translation for this course, but for example we will learn what is this “Teaching Chinese for Foreigners”, it’s a major, it’s a profession and even a mission. The most important part of this course is second language acquisition. During this course the teacher also hopes us to find a topic for our bachelor thesis.

Selective courses

中国国情,Current situation of China

The topic of our first meeting was Chinese New Year and especially the rush to get back home to celebrate the festival. We discussed what it means to migrant workers and how hard it’s get to tickets for buses and trains. Our other topics will be from different aspects like economy, politics, culture, people, education, religion and so on. I hope this selective course will help me to understand China better and to learn about recent happenings in the country.

现代汉语虚词学习,Modern Chinese function words

This course will be a headache! A full course on those little function words which doesn’t have meaning, but do have a grammatical function. Like 的,地,得 and 了1 + 了2. So why did I chose this course? It will help me in so many levels: speaking, writing and with my modern Chinese course.

中级粤语,Middle level Cantonese

A better name for this course would be Beginner Cantonese 2, because that’s the level we still are. Luckily or unfortunately all of my classmates on this course seem to have a Cantonese parent or grew up in Hong Kong. But optimistically thinking, it means I have more than one teaching at the classroom!

中国历史, History of China

History used to be my major back in Finland so I of course had to choose this course. I really like the teacher and we will learn the basics of the 5000 years of Chinese history. I’ve been concentrating a lot on 20th century Chinese history, so even during the first meeting I learned a lot.

– – – – – –

So here are all of my courses for this semester. Do you find them interesting?

In total it’s almost 22 hours of Chinese classes per week. On top of that comes the homework of course (exercises and reading), then add some self-study like reading books and watching Chinese TV. And don’t forget that I have a Chinese boyfriend and cat at home.