UI Confucius Institute starts new Chinese Survival Class


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The University of Iowa has seen a growing need from students and people in the community to learn basic Chinese, prompting the creation of the Survival Chinese community language class.

The Survival Chinese class is an eight-week course made for tourists, exchange students, and anyone else who wants to speak basic Chinese for functional purposes.

UI Confucius Institute program coordinator Erin Mullins said the target group consists of people in the community who plan on traveling to China, people who will host exchange students, and people who need the language for business.

“What may very well happen is students might really like learning Chinese,” she said. “So maybe this class will spark interest in these students to continue to pursue the language.”

Mullins said the Confucius Institute is looking to meet the community’s needs in whatever way possible, which motivated the creation of the class.

“If there’s a student looking to speak basic Chinese, they really ought to have the opportunity,” she said. “This course gives them just that.”

Mullins said the class was designed so the content is not too overwhelming, and class sizes will remain small, with around 10 students or fewer.

“There are already people signing up,” she said. “The kinds of people taking the class range from high-school students to hospital workers to police officers.”

UI student Chengchen Li of China said many more American students elect to take the Spanish over Chinese because Spanish is more applicable in the United States.

“I know some domestic students taking Japanese and Korean,” she said. “Maybe they could comprehend Asian culture better after they take a Chinese class.”

Li said there is more and more cooperation between the United States and China, and learning Chinese language and culture helps Americans work well with Chinese companies, as well as Chinese colleagues working in global health, economics, journalism, and policy.

“I think this new class will offer a good opportunity for students to start or continue their Chinese studying,” Li said.

She said there is no doubt whether Chinese is one of the most difficult languages in the world, and lots of people find it complicated to write Chinese characters.

“As far as I’m concerned, attending an intro class that covers the basics of Chinese will be enough for them to gain the necessary skills to learn the language,” she said.

UI freshman Titus Hou said Survival Chinese would be beneficial because, depending on the curriculum, it would teach foreigners customs that would not typically be taught in a language course.

“I’m not sure the creation of this class would motivate me to take Chinese,” he said. “However, I think if students … enjoy the class, then students might think it worthwhile to learn Chinese.”

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