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Chinese and Japanese Department Goals and Objectives

The department's approaches to its fields of study can be grouped into three categories. The first is language instruction, in which we emphasize communicative skills in speaking and writing; the accumulative knowledge of non-Western culture through language learning; the acquisition of the analytical ability through grammar learning; and the creative use of the acquired linguistic skills in real-life situations. The second category encompasses literature and culture, in which we work to give students a broad understanding of literary genres from antiquity to the present; to give them opportunities to do comparative studies between Western and East-Asian cultures and between those of China and Japan; and to engage them in theoretical/methodological inquiry into Chinese and Japanese literature, culture, aesthetics, and philosophy. The third category is cultural and linguistic immersion, which students may experience through an intensive summer program or JYA.

In all of these areas, we ask a variety of questions, including "How different or similar are the thinking patterns of English-speakers and Chinese/Japanese people as reflected by the word order and grammar of both languages"; "What are the effective methods in achieving high proficiency in a target language"; and "How can the study of a new subject relating to China or Japan help one to develop critical and analytical ability?"Most students have in our courses their first exposure to East-Asian languages and cultures. Consequently, all of our courses serve the College's goal of offering students a “thorough, well-proportioned, and liberal education.” Our curriculum aims to foster critical reflection of language and culture by expanding the student's view and knowledge beyond the modes of the Western culture. To achieve this goal, we open all courses to non-majors. Further, completion of introductory Chinese or Japanese fulfills the College's language requirement. Non-majors who take the sequence of language courses from Level 1 to Level 4 can enrich their educations in ways articulated in the College's mission statement. Our literature and culture courses also serve that mission by, for example, helping students to recognize different kinds of knowledge and their relevance to one another, teaching them to understand the relationships among past, present, and future, and by fostering their commitment to an evolving set of values.
The department sets its standards in accordance with the guidelines of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and the Associations of Chinese/Japanese Teachers. Majors are expected to present information, concepts, and ideas to an audience on a variety of topics; to understand the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the culture they study; to acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints that are available only through foreign languages and cultures; to understand the concept of language and culture through comparisons between the language and culture studied and their own; and to use the language both within and beyond the school setting and show evidence of becoming life-long learners by using the language for personal enjoyment and enrichment. Majors must complete both language and literature/culture coursework at the 300 level, after meeting the major requirements at the 100 and 200 levels.

Correlate students are expected to understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics; to understand the nature of language through comparisons of the language studied and their own; and to gain knowledge and understanding of another culture through the study of the target language. Correlates must take 6 ½ units of language courses, completing the requirements at the advanced (300) level.

The five literature/culture courses required for the major are designed to enhance students' literary and cultural understanding beyond what they receive during the three years of language study. Unlike the language courses, which follow a strict prerequisite structure, the prerequisites for our 200 level culture courses are more flexible. However, majors are required to take Chinese-Japanese 120, a course that introduces the fundamental literary traditions, genres, and methodologies of China and Japan. All majors must take at least two 300-level content courses. These requirements ensure that students will acquire the necessary linguistic and literary skills by graduation. 

The department offers additional opportunities for majors and correlates to enrich their cultural experience of China and Japan. These include the department's own summer programs in China and Japan, as well as efforts to place students in JYA and student-exchange programs in both countries. The Department also offers a number of cultural events, such as Chinese and Japanese Culture Day and celebrations of Chinese New Year and the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival.

The department recognizes students' achievement through evaluations of their academic performance, participation in study-abroad programs, and senior theses/projects. The thesis or project must reflect the student's ability to handle authentic materials in the target language or his/her level of analysis and synthesis in approaching a theoretical problem.