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Connect with Chinese language and life.

Chinese is one of the most widely used languages in the world today and has a rich past. Its writing system is only slightly modified from its ancient origins 3,000 years ago. With four levels of Mandarin Chinese language courses paired with studies of modern Chinese literature, film and culture, the Chinese major at Whitman College will help connect you to some of the world’s most complex and vibrant societies. Plus, at Whitman, you can complement your major in Chinese with courses in South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Global Literatures, History, Philosophy and more.

3 Reasons to Study Chinese at Whitman

Master a Language Spoken by 1.3 Billion People

At Whitman you can take four years of skill-based Chinese language courses, ranging from the beginner to the advanced level. Classes stress active communication and will help you master speaking, reading and writing. Whitman’s small class sizes allow you to share your perspective and get personalized attention from caring professors.

Delve Deep Into Chinese Culture

At Whitman you’ll gain insight into Chinese life through classes in Chinese literature, film and other arts. You can immerse yourself in modern literature from mainland China and Taiwan, learn to read Chinese poetry, or experience classical Chinese drama through play readings and guest appearances by Chinese actors.

Bond With Fellow Asian Language Students

Outside of class you’ll have many opportunities to practice Chinese and learn about Chinese culture. You can sharpen your skills at the weekly Chinese language table. Or you can live and learn with fellow students in the Asian Studies House, which sponsors many Chinese cultural activities, including Mahjong and Chinese New Year celebrations.

Interested in Chinese?

We’d love to send you information, including more on academic majors and student life at our beautiful campus in Walla Walla, Washington.

Tucker G., Chinese major

“The small class sizes and personalized attention are second to none. I have not only improved my language skills through the Chinese department, but also grown as a person and taken ownership of my journey with the language.”

Our Whitman Student Voices Blog

Courses in Chinese

See just a few of the fascinating courses you might take.

Chinese building.
CHIN 105/106

First-Year Chinese

This beginner-friendly course is a great introduction to the four levels of Chinese language courses at Whitman. You’ll learn the sounds and structures of modern Chinese and get a foundation in conversation, grammar, reading and basic writing.

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Students speaking Chinese together.
CHIN 110

Conversational Chinese I

As part of the Whitman Summer Studies in China program, this course is taught in China over four weeks by Chinese instructors and a Whitman faculty member. You’ll practice conversational Chinese based on the vocabulary and sentence patterns you learned in First-Year Chinese, along with new phrases that will enrich your experience studying in China.

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HIST 344

China in Revolution

Explore the national and international politics as well as the social and cultural changes that shook Chinese society, starting in the late 19th century. Discover how Chinese communists attempted to remake society through mass campaigns, to make intellectuals into peasants, and to make everyone into comrades. And delve into what the past means for Chinese socialism today.

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Chinese writing instruments.
CHIN 405

Advanced Chinese: Themes and Aspects of Chinese Culture

Deepen your competence in reading, translating and writing Chinese while learning more about Chinese culture and society in this advanced course. You’ll learn how to write about your own cultural experiences in formal and informal ways and expand your understanding of written Chinese syntax and grammar.

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Chinese writings.
CHIN 410

Reading in Chinese Literature and Television Drama

In this class, you’ll read works of literature and television drama in the original Chinese without translations. Through works by native Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong writers, you’ll explore the vastly different cultural, historical, geographical and social norms of the Chinese-speaking world.

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Chinese flag.
CHIN 417

Walking the Talk: Chinese-English Translation

Translating is one of the best ways to learn about a language. In this course, you’ll develop your abilities to navigate the linguistic and cultural boundaries that separate Chinese and English. And you’ll improve your problem-solving skills with plenty of hands-on experience.

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Amazing Experiences You Can Pursue

Sharpen your language skills outside of class. Learning a language takes practice. The Language Learning Center at Whitman provides drop-in support five days a week. And at the weekly Chinese language table, you can practice speaking Chinese with your fellow students and a native Chinese language assistant.

Live and learn with fellow Chinese language students. Since 1986, the Asian Studies House has housed students who are passionate about Asian languages and culture. A language assistant from China lives in the house and helps students learn. Together you’ll plan fun activities and bond over shared cultural interests.

Take your knowledge abroad. Interested in an off-campus experience? You can do a year abroad through Whitman’s Off-Campus Studies Program or the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship. Whitman also offers a six-week Summer Studies in China semester in beautiful Kunming in southwest China.

Your Questions Answered

There’s no better way to immerse yourself in the rich and diverse cultures of the Chinese-speaking world than by learning to speak, read and write Chinese. Are you fascinated by the history, literature, art and politics of China? Do you want to study or eventually work overseas? Are you up for a demanding curriculum and students and faculty who will both challenge and support you? Then a major in Chinese might be for you.

Being able to speak a non-Western language used by 1.3 billion people opens up a lot of career opportunities. Chinese majors can be translators, interpreters, bilingual writers, Chinese language teachers and more. Industries like business, law and healthcare always have need of Chinese speakers. And if you’ve combined Chinese with another field of study, you might be an intelligence analyst, an export coordinator, a security analyst, a diplomat or a cultural ambassador. A Chinese language bachelor’s degree opens a lot of doors.

Absolutely! Depending on your career goals, you might combine a Chinese major with Politics, History, Economics or a major in the sciences. Combined majors simply open more opportunities when you start looking at internships, jobs or further study.

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