LAS now offers course in Mandarin Chinese

September 20, 2011

By Brigitte Graf ’13

This semester the Department of Foreign Languages is offering a course in Mandarin Chinese for the first time. The 100-level course meets for one hour, five times every week.

The decision to add Mandarin Chinese to the list of offered courses came about when student interest in the language grew. The students currently enrolled in the class pursue a variety of different majors including engineering, nursing, and business.

According to Dr. Leslie Sconduto, chair of the Department of Foreign Languages, the advantages that this language would give students who wish to pursue a career abroad were also considered.

“There’s a growing interest in doing business in China,” Dr. Sconduto said. “It’s always good to know the language of the business or company you are working with.”

The significance of learning a foreign language is also recognized by the course instructor, Professor Xiatian Chen.

“Just learning English isn’t enough anymore,” Chen said. “We rely so much on other countries for business, for everything.”

Because of the nature of the language, the course is a bit more demanding than those in Western languages.

“It takes more time to achieve proficiency in [Chinese],” said Dr. Sconduto.  “It takes a student who is really serious and who is willing to take the time.”

However, the benefits students would gain by taking the course are numerous.

“Language is a skill, but it also helps you to understand other cultures,” Dr. Sconduto said. “It’s always good to have a language because it sets you apart.”

Along with the course in Mandarin Chinese, the Department of Foreign Languages will add another non-western language course in Arabic, with the first introductory course already on the schedule for next fall. The format of the course will be similar to that of the current course in Mandarin Chinese and is being added for many of the same reasons.

“You want to be as informed as possible,” Dr. Sconduto said. “It’s always good to try and explore a new language.”