Course Description and Procedures

Course Syllabus 

  1. The course syllabus is available in Moodle
  2. This class will be taught as a hybrid class, in person and/or remotely in Teams as warranted by the need for personalized instruction and the safety concerns for each individual
    1. Location: Burton Morgon Hall, 217
    2. Time: M/W/F  1:00—1:50;  T  12:45—1:35
  3. If and when we switch in remote learning, homework and quizzes are to be submitted online; in Moodle if that is where you find the quizzes; Moodle automatically grade your work and keep your scores. 
  4. If and when you submit work into your individual homework folder in Teams, do remember to
    1. Submit in Word format (and not in PDF) so that I can edit it and offer feedback 
    2. Write what the homework or quiz about as title; e.g. “Lesson One Text homework
    3. Check the next day to find the score for your work and know what you did right or wrong
  5. If and when you are unable to come to class in person, you should find and watch a video recording of the class in Teams 
  6. If and when we meet in Teams, mute your mike but turn on camera so that everyone would know who you are and what you look like; turn on your mike and click the “hand” icon if you have a question
  7. Feel free to “Chat” with me in Teams if you have a question when the class is already over. You can “Share” screen to allow me to look at your work in progress.


This course is for those wanting to learn Chinese from scratch and with no prior knowledge of the language. It introduces the fundamentals of Mandarin Chinese, and is structured for attainment of proper pronunciation, learning of the basic grammatical patterns, and the mastery of approximately 200 characters and compounds. The course stresses communication skills more than the static knowledge of grammar.

The goal of this course is to train you to function successfully in Chinese culture. We assume that you understand why you want to learn Chinese and that you are interested in interacting with Chinese people in a way that will permit you to pursue professional goals in some segment of a Chinese society. The importance of studying another language is perhaps best stated by Franz Fanon in his Black Skin, White Masks, “A man who has a language consequently possesses the world expressed and implied by that language.” Some of the Chinese values and attitudes are embedded in the very grammar and syntax of the language that shape the way people conceptualize the world.

After you have become familiar with this course and the basics of the Chinese language, we will introduce you to the writing system. Whether you are speaking, reading, or writing, your daily performance will be the crucial factor in how well you do in this class. When you are accustomed to performing in Chinese in class, we will continue to build on this until you are comfortable using the language in front of strangers. We will pay attention to the way you behave as much as we attend to your use of the language. To do this, you will have to perform and your performance is the focus of this course.

We’ll assure you that if you do what we ask of you on a daily basis, you will learn Chinese. Therefore, our evaluation (i.e., your grades) will be based on your daily performances. The following section should be thoroughly read and understood.

Participation is mandatory; Final Oral exam: 10%; Homework: 40%; Tests and Quizzes: 50%. Your course grade breaks down to or is the sum total of your scores in weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14. There is a quiz nearly everyday on the content of what we introduce the day before, in one or all of the formats below:

  1. filling the blanks, where I randomly take out words from a text and you put them back into the text;
  2. True or false, where you read a sentence or statement and let me know by “F” or “T” if it is false or true;
  3. sequencing, where you number the fragments of a full text or paragraph; and
  4. unscrambling, where you number the fragments of one sentence such as subjects, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and so forth; and
  5. writing out a character skit that you have memorized. In addition, you can also opt out of a quiz by
  6. memorizing the whole dialog or narrative being tested on with me outside the classroom; one more way to succeed; sometimes you can also score bonus points by
  7. translating some t/f questions.