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Chinese V

Course Overview

While continuing to refine and develop students’ Chinese language and cultural knowledge in all aspects, this course emphasizes the differences between the two discourses: conversational or spoken language, and formal or written language, with the focus gradually transitioning to the latter. Students will read increasingly formal texts, study Chinese talk shows and films that explore current cultural and social phenomena, compare US-China socio-cultural differences, and use formal language in more sophisticated interpretive assignments, oral presentations, group discussions, and compositions.


Upon successful completion of the course, students will attain approximately the Advanced-low level of Chinese on the ACTFL proficiency scale. Students will be able to learn and use appropriately many commonly used idioms, discuss in depth topics including population growth, housing, and education, and present both in oral and written formats their observations, thoughts, and opinions on the social-cultural phenomena.

Course Content

Unit 1

In this unit, students will develop interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational skills with the focus on formal written discourse in Chinese language. Students will watch, study, and discuss an one-hour episode of a Chinese talk show, Round Table Talk. The topic of the chosen episode is about procrastination. Students will pause the video frequently during viewing, retell the opinions and/or arguments put forwarded by the host and guest speakers, and discuss whether they agree with them. Students will connect the topic with their own experience, express their own thoughts on the topic of procrastination, and share with classmates whether any of the discussed behaviors apply to them. Students will also recognize elements of formal language used by the speakers of the show, e.g, ancient idioms and quotes from literature works, study the meaning within the cultural context, and apply the gained knowledge in their unit assignments.

Unit 2

In this unit, students will focus on developing interpretive reading and presentational writing skills on the current issues of population, housing, and education in China. The readings, written in formal written language, will help students develop their knowledge and skills concerning general writing styles extensively used in Chinese literature works, official documents, essays, and news. They are also good source for understanding 21st century Chinese society. Not only will students build up an appropriate cultural interpretation of meaning in written form, they also gain keen understanding of Chinese culture and society.

Unit 3

While this course emphasizes on shifting the development students’ language skills and knowledge from conversational discourse to formal discourse, this unit provides an opportunity for students to keep up with their vernacular language skills with expanded formal language vocabulary. Students will watch a feature-length film, A Great Wall, in five segments. The film is about a Chinese American family who goes back to China for the first time in 30 years to visit their relatives. This film presents many culture clashes between the lives the Chinese American family lead and the lives of their Chinese relatives. Choosing this film also aims at improving students’ cultural awareness and literacy in Chinese language to develop the global awareness necessary for success in an interconnected world.