The Chinese Program offers a full set of Chinese language courses, ranging from beginner-level Chinese language courses to advanced content courses taught in Chinese in the areas of literature, history, and society. Learners also receive one-on-one interactive training to enhance their Chinese language ability.
By taking our courses you will learn from our expertise. Our courses include topics such as:
- Literature (especially plays, popular literature, and elite poetry)
- Chinese thinking and religious practices (Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism)
- Print Culture
- Cultural History
- and Language Acquisition.
In addition to regular undergraduate and graduate courses in these areas, the Chinese Flagship Program provides content courses taught in Chinese to advanced students. Students in the Chinese Flagship are required to do an internship in China as the capstone of their B.A. degree; moreover, many other Chinese majors and minors include courses taken in China as part of their degree programs. With China’s rise, there are now more diverse ways of utilizing your knowledge of Chinese language and culture.
Our students have either gone on to graduate school or pursued careers in diverse fields, including:
- international business,
- military and diplomatic service,
- NGO humanitarianism,
- and many more
Chinese opens a huge area of opportunities to almost any career. Beyond the growing opportunities that have accompanied China’s rise economically and internationally, as well as the advantage of learning Chinese language and having cultural experiences in China, our China content courses help you develop skills in critical thinking, analysis, and writing, etc., that are of crucial importance to employers in the public and private sectors.
The Chinese Program has established a joint degree with the Business School, but other students from a wide range of disciplines pair their Chinese degree with:
- life sciences
- religious studies
You can relate the Chinese language to anything you might want to study! Talk to our advisors about how you can begin your personalized Chinese Program.
The Language Flagship
The Language Flagship is a national effort to change the way Americans learn languages. Flagship funds a number of institutions including Arizona State University (ASU) to offer language programs in critical languages for undergraduate students such as Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu. Designed as a network of programs, The Language Flagship seeks to graduate students who will take their place among the next generation of global professionals, commanding a superior level of proficiency in one of many languages critical to U.S. competitiveness and security.
The Language Flagship is a public/private partnership sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP) of the Department of Defense and administrate by the Institute of International Education (IIE). The content of this website does not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Government or IIE and no official Government or IIE endorsement should be inferred.
245 D Durham Hall, School of International Letters and Cultures
851 S. Cady Mall, Tempe, AZ 85287
PO Box 870202
p: (480) 844-1992
BA Asian Languages (Chinese)
China is one of the world's oldest continuous civilizations and newest economic giants. Gain a competitive edge in the dynamic frontier of international business and relations as well as in the arts and sciences by studying Chinese language and culture.
Asian Languages/Civilizations (Chinese), MA
Deepen your academic and societal understanding of China while continuing to study the language in-depth. Study in a research-intensive, interdisciplinary program in the traditional and modern languages and cultures of China.
Asian Languages (Chinese) (Minor)
China continues to rise as an economic power, and so can your value in the marketplace when you're fluent in Chinese. Your deep understanding of a culturally rich nation, earned through the minor in Chinese, will add depth and value to your major.
Chinese Students and Scholars Association The Arizona State University Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) is a student organization dedicated to the goal of promoting social, intellectual and cultural activities for Chinese students and scholars at Arizona State University as well as other interested members in the ASU community. If you want to keep up with the newest event from CSSA, please follow us on WeChat. Our WeChat ID is ASU-CSSA.
The Chinese English Language Bridge (CELB) is a cultural and linguistic organization for ASU students and alumni to learn and exchange knowledge between the two cultural aspects. Come to our events to practice your language skills (Chinese or English), share your cultural experiences, and meet new friends. If you would like to hear about CELB events, join us on Facebook.
Chinese Undergraduate Student Association represents the Chinese student community at ASU through participation in local community events. Additionally, it provides cultural awareness through education of Chinese history as well as influential current issues. It aids in promoting and coordinating events with both the Chinese community in Phoenix and the Asian community on campus.
Cultural Association of Performing Arts (CAPA) is an organization that strives to promote art forms of various cultures on the ASU campus. There are two sections for CAPA: Dance and Wushu. Dance focuses on the eastern regions of Asia particularly in China and its numerous ethnic minorities. Wushu is a form of performance martial arts that uses weapons as props.
The SILC Attaches Club is a club that brings all languages and cultures from SILC together. People are able to learn about different cultures in a fun way when studying a language. Understanding different cultures are such an important attribute to have, and it is one you can obtain through SILC Attaches. This club creates community events, outreach projects, and plans fun get-togethers.
Startalk Program offers a 15-day intensive residential program for motivated 8th-12th grade students in Arizona. This program provides a great opportunity for both heritage and non-heritage learners to explore and expand their knowledge in Chinese language and culture through a highly structured theme- and task-based curriculum. During the program, students will receive instructions in Chinese language and participate in fun, hands-on cultural activities. After the program, students will commit to continuing their Chinese language learning. The program boasts a living-learning setting, where participants gain first-hand college life experience on the ASU Tempe campus during the summer. All evening activities are monitored and supervised by resident advisors who reside in the residence hall with students. We hope that through this summer camp, high school students will see the value and fun of learning and exploring the language and culture beyond a structured classroom setting and eventually become life-long learners of Chinese language.
Our China Program provides a bridge for our students to study abroad at ASU’s comprehensive exchange partner, Sichuan University in Chengdu. Our students have also studied at numerous other universities, such as Nanjing University, Renmin University of China, Huadong Shifan, Taiwan University. We are now developing an exchange with Beijing Shifan University, which is the renowned host for such programs as Princeton-in-China.
The ability to speak another language opens up more opportunities for scholarships and fellowships. Take a look at our SILC scholarships. ASU also offers an extensive database for you to search through and find the right ones to apply for.
In the Study Abroad Office, Shira Burns oversees applications to programs. Study Abroad’s deadlines for applying for all programs are September 25th for the spring and February 15th for the fall. ASU financial aid is accepted for all programs on Study Abroad’s approved list.
Here is a list of a few scholarships specific for language:
- Benjamin A Gilman International Scholarship
- USAC Study Abroad Scholarship
- Stohl International Undergraduate Research Scholarships
Fellowships and Internships
Intensive Language Courses
Achieve an intermediate level of proficiency after only two semesters of study!
Proficiency-based intensive language courses are designed to get you to start speaking the language very quickly, by creating a mini-immersion environment in the classroom. Enjoy lots of personalized attention in a class shared with other equally motivated students.
Study language and culture in a dynamic and challenging environment!
Get plenty of exposure to authentic materials and media from the target language culture from day one. Engage in real-life situations on a daily basis and learn about cultural practices and products of the countries whose language you are studying.
Gain important skills for today’s globalized world!
Complete the language requirement in just two semesters, and then crown your study with a summer study abroad program. This way you can very easily minor or double-major in the foreign language and get a serious edge in your future search for employment.
Why did you choose to do the flagship program? What makes it so unique?
The summer before my freshman year at ASU, the then-director of the Chinese Language Flagship Program asked how I planned to differentiate myself after college—I honestly didn’t have a great answer. She recommended that I look into studying Chinese and, long story short, I fell in love with it.
The Language Flagship is a national initiative to create the next generation of “global professionals” by providing the framework (mental, financial, and emotional) within which students can achieve superior language proficiency in critical languages such as Chinese. I think that Flagship is unique in four regards:
the program provides significant information and support to allow participation in a number of study-abroad experiences, including the Capstone year in China;
the program fosters a cohort mentality, which results in intimate ties between students from all Flagship schools (ASU, Brigham Young University, Indiana University, University of Oregon, etc.);
the program does not trivialize or shy away from the difficulty of learning Chinese, instead it challenges students to actually achieve superior language proficiency; and
the program is basically a massive “personal-pan pizza,” allowing students to pick and choose their knowledge specializations, courses, and work experience based on professional interests.
Part of your program included the Capstone year, involving time abroad at a university and an internship in China. Can you speak more about this experience? How did it benefit you?
The Capstone is the culmination of The Language Flagship experience and, as such, is the final result of years of intensive Chinese study and the last step to reaching superior language proficiency. What sets Capstone apart from another study abroad programs is its length and the degree to which students are encouraged to learn through immersion by studying, living, and working in China.
The year is split into two components: a semester at a top-ranked university taking classes (in Chinese, of course!) alongside fellow native students, and a semester internship working at a company/NGO of the student’s choosing. The classes that I took ranged from Chinese media during the Cultural Revolution to business law, and from professional writing to strategic management. Although I had previously taken classes conducted entirely in Chinese, it was incredible to experience the Chinese education system first-hand and provided an amazing sense of accomplishment when I realized that I could “keep up” with my native classmates.
I ended up interning at an international nuclear energy consulting firm headquartered in Shanghai. My experiences at Nicobar Group solidified my passion for consulting and provided the first truly professional venue to apply my Chinese language skills. Aside from the professional development aspects, I found a lifelong friend in my Chinese roommate, almost died on a mountain in NW China (I still recommend hiking it though!), was besieged by fireworks over Chinese New Year, got ripped off by my landlord, and formed a band with my internship co-workers.
All in all, I had had some crazy experiences in my previous trips to China, but the depth of interaction made possible by the sheer length of a year abroad allowed for even crazier adventures. The Capstone year benefited me both personally and professionally—and it was a ton of fun!
How did SILC and the program prepare you for your future career?
SILC and ASU’s Chinese Language Flagship directly prepared me for my future career. When I met with the then-director of the Flagship Program, I was determined to pursue a career in genetics research. I ended up graduating with my genetics degree, but I picked up Chinese as well along the way—Chinese and the opportunities available to me through the Flagship program served as the foundation for my transition from science to business.
By my junior year, after two years of research in two different labs, I had come to terms with the fact that my professional priorities lay elsewhere. One day, I ended up chatting in the Flagship office with a recent alum about his experiences working at the investment bank, Goldman Sachs. His description sounded significantly more in-line with what I was looking for in my career, and, after a bit of research, I found myself applying to be a summer analyst. The recruiters at Goldman Sachs ended up being familiar with the work ethic of previous Flagship alumni and were very welcoming of applicants from various backgrounds; I ended up receiving an offer!
Ten days after getting back from my internship, I left for Capstone. During the process of researching potential classes to take for the first semester, I found myself buried in forums and chatrooms comparing investment banking and management consulting, a career with which I was previously unfamiliar. Consulting, at least on paper, seemed to be the application of the scientific method to the business world. Best of all, the entire process required significant interpersonal communication and client interaction—in essence, the synthesis of aspects I found lacking in my previous professional experiences. I found international economics, strategic management, international finance, and business law courses at the Chinese university and tried them all, adding some formal education backing to the knowledge that I had previously acquired on the job.
As the first semester came to an end, I began looking for a consulting internship opportunity. It turned out that a Flagship alum was currently working at a nuclear energy consulting firm and, although I had no previous experience with nuclear engineering, my language abilities and previous track record proved to be sufficient to secure an offer. Nicobar Group provided me with the opportunity to work on market-entry strategy and project implementation—I loved it! I had found a career that I could be passionate about!
Knowing that there would not be a definite opportunity for me to work for Nicobar Group back home, I began researching the major firms in the US and preparing for case and FIT (resume) interviews. Several of my Flagship cohort classmates and the managing partner at Nicobar Group helped me connect with current management consultants, and, after a few months of preparation, networking, and interviews, I am happy to say that I landed a position as an entry-level management consultant!
It’s been a long journey full of twists and turns, but I successfully followed my passions and made the transition from genetics to management consulting, the common thread of which was my experience learning Chinese in Flagship. I can’t wait to move to Boston in April!
What area of in-depth study in the program was your favorite?
My favorite area of in-depth study was, without a doubt, Classical Chinese. Classical/Literary Chinese is a completely different language than modern Mandarin: there are no parts of speech, there is no punctuation, there are lexical differences, and characters have multiple/expanded meanings. Now, that may sound like the recipe for a headache-and it is-but translating Classical Chinese into modern Chinese/English is like solving a brainteaser that requires you to broaden your ability to interpret the meaning and make connections.
Not only that, but these are the texts of Confucius, Mencius, Sunzi (Sun-Tzu), etc. as they were originally recorded—there is something incredibly profound about being able to read ancient Chinese texts as an American in the 21st century. It melts cultural, linguistic, and temporal boundaries. Plus, you can quite literally quote what “Confucius says!” I liked it so much that I ended up working with my Classical Chinese professor to translate Daoist text for my honors thesis.
How does knowing another language help you succeed in life, both here and abroad?
I’m a big believer in the concept of linguistic relativity: the structure of a language affects how its speakers view the world. If language affects perspective, then learning another language should hopefully provide some insight on how/why speakers of that language view things in a certain way, thereby enhancing mutual understanding. On the flip side, learning how speakers of a language view things expose the language learner to new perspectives, improving his/her ability to view and solve problems. Applying this to my experiences, my passion for Chinese stems from how vastly different it is than English, especially the character system. I believe that, as a direct result of my learning Mandarin, I am able to view problems from a more holistic perspective and make better connections between seemingly disparate ideas. These are traits that I found essential to memorizing Chinese characters.
What was the most challenging aspect of learning another language? Do you have any advice for current and prospective students?
I often jokingly say that between genetics and Chinese, Chinese was the more difficult major. There is definitely some truth to that statement though. The Mandarin dialect has five tones (including the neutral tone), a character-based system, two-character types (simplified and traditional), and a number of phonetic and lexical differences across regions. Overall, I think that these are the four most challenging aspects of learning Mandarin. For me specifically, it was definitely the tones. As a singer, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. Tones can mean the difference between saying “how much does it cost for a bowl of steamed dumplings” and “how much does it cost to sleep (with you) for a night.” There are countless examples like these that, while terrifying from a pragmatic perspective, make the learning process very fun. I eventually “found my Chinese voice” (it ended up being somewhere in between singing and different levels of gusto) and am now just in the endless process of accumulating vocabulary.
Regardless of the language, I think that it is important to create meaning for yourself in the language learning process and immerse yourself in the language environment as much as possible. Once you have the first one down, it should be easier to persuade yourself to pursue the second one—even if you do end up accidentally asking someone to sleep with you instead of buying dumplings.