Frequently Asked Questions

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Question 1: Is Chinese difficult to learn?

Question 2: What can be difficult in learning Chinese?

Question 3: Why should I study Chinese?

Question 4: What Chinese courses are offered at UVM?

Question 5: Who are the Chinese instructors?

Question 6: Can I major in Chinese at UVM?


Q1: Is Chinese difficult to learn?

A1: Here are some facts about Chinese to help you judge whether it is difficult to learn:

Chinese never changes its word endings. Chinese words do not change to account for different gender, number, case, and tense. Instead, Chinese uses adverbs, adjectives, and numerals to indicate those notions.

Chinese also uses Roman letters for writing. Chinese has two writing systems: one is logographic (Chinese characters), and the other is alphabetic (Romanized Chinese). All students in China learn both, and both are used in China.

Chinese has only four sounds that English does not have. There are 21 initials (i.e., consonants) which always appear at the beginning of syllables in Chinese. Only three initials ("j, q, and x") need to be learned by English speakers. Except the sound "`," all the 38 finals (i.e., vowels and the combinations of vowels and nasals) which always appear at the end of syllables in Chinese are not new to English speakers.


Q2: What can be difficult?

A2: Chinese tones and Chinese characters usually present challenges to English speaking learners.

Each syllable in a Chinese word has a tone. When the tone is changed, the meaning of the word is also changed. Learning to speak Chinese is somewhat like learning to sing. Singers usually learn to speak Chinese quite well. Those who are "tone deaf" may have a hard time mastering the four Chinese tones in speaking. However, the way they speak Chinese can still be understood from the context by the native Chinese speakers.

Chinese, a non-alphabetical language, has about 60,000 Chinese characters which are words or are used to form words. One can hardly remember a character without seeing it and using it frequently. The good news is that only 3,500 characters are commonly used nowadays. For students learning Chinese as a foreign language, mastering 1,000 to 1,500 characters would enable them to socialize, work, and study without much difficulty in China. If one has no problem recognizing and using icons on the computer screen, one can learn Chinese characters.


Q3: Why should I study Chinese?

A3: Here are some of the good reasons:

1. Chinese is a melodious and artistic language, pleasant to listen to and nice to look at.
2. Chinese sounds and grammar, compared with those of other languages, are easy to learn.
3. Writing Chinese characters help to further develop the right hemisphere of your brains.
4. China has a recorded history of more than 5,000 years. Knowing Chinese is the key to access the wealth of human knowledge recorded in Chinese.
5. China has the biggest and fastest growing economy and will continue to grow in many years to come. People who possess Chinese language skills will have more opportunities open to them.


Q4: What Chinese courses are offered at UVM?

A4: Here is a list of the Chinese courses offered at UVM:

CHN 001/002 Elementary Chinese

CHN 051/052 Intermediate Chinese

CHN 101/102 Advanced Chinese

CHN 201/202 Advanced Conversation & Composition

CHN 095/096 Conversational Chinese for Beginners

WLIT 110/111 Chinese Literature in Translation (English)


Q5: Who are the Chinese instructors?

Joho-photo.jpg (45959 bytes)

John Jing-hua Yin, Assistant Professor of Chinese. He got his Ph.D. in Foreign Language Education from SUNY/Buffalo.  Before he came to teach in the University of Vermont in fall 1997, he had taught at Chinese Summer School at Middlebury College, University of Oregon, and the College of William & Mary. He teaches these courses at UVM:
Elementary Chinese Language (CHIN 001/002)
Intermediate Chinese Language
(CHIN 051/052)
Advanced Chinese (CHIN 201/202)
Glimpse of Chinese Culture (IS 095/IS 096)
Chinese Literature in Translation (WLIT 110)

To get contact with him, write to jyin@zoo.uvm.edu

Diana-photo.jpg (95780 bytes)

Diana Yiqing Sun, Lecturer of Chinese. She got her Master Degree in Education from St. Louis University.  She had taught at Washington University in St. Louis and the Chinese Summer School at Middlebury College before she came to teach in the University of Vermont in Fall 2000.  She teaches these courses at UVM:
Elementary Chinese  (CHIN 001/002)
Post-Intermediate Chinese (CHIN101/102)
Advanced Chinese (CHIN 201/202)
Conversational Chinese for adult learners  (CHIN 095/096)

To get contact with her, write to dsun@zoo.uvm.edu


Q6: Can I major in Chinese at UVM?

A6: Right now the Chinese Language Program does not offer a major in Chinese; however, you may have a self-designed major in Chinese.   You may also choose to have a minor in Chinese.  To get a minor in Chinese, you are required to take 18 credit hours of Chinese with at least eight of those at or above 100 level, including CHIN 102.  Three credit hours at or above 100 level in Chinese linguistics or Chinese literature may be substituted for three credits of language study beyond CHIN 102.


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Comments and suggestions are welcome.
Please write to John Jing-hua Yin:
jyin@zoo.uvm.edu
Copyright 1997 Chinese Language Program. All rights reserved.
Created: 
November 14, 1997
Last revised:
September 24, 2001