1. Do you offer Chinese language courses? Does the university offer multiple levels of international student Chinese classes? If so, how high do the classes go?
Yes, introductory Chinese is an elective in training. Many teachers opt to continue language study with a private tutor. It might also be possible to take some language courses through the university (not for credit). Please inform us if you would like to enroll in the international student Chinese classes that meet 8 hours per week. We may be able to work your teaching schedule around those classes if you are committed to learning Chinese.
This year there has been 3 classes made available:
1) Intro to Spoken Chinese that meets once a week
2) Intermediate Spoken Chinese that meets once a week
3) Beginning Chinese that meets 4 times a week and introduces Chinese
characters early on. You would be joining the international students in this
2. How easy is it to navigate China without knowing the language?
It is certainly possible to travel in China knowing only basic Chinese. But, you probably will never be required to navigate China on your own, unless you chose to travel independently. Teachers travel on university-sponsored trips in groups or they bring students with them when they run errands in town. Your students are a wonderful resource for you as they will gladly translate for you and assist you in any situation. Having an electronic dictionary on an iPod Touch or iPhone is also very helpful.
3. Is it difficult to learn Chinese?
While Chinese is a difficult language to learn, it is possible with instruction and practice. Teachers can hire a student to tutor them for a very low fee, and have a great deal of success. Learning even a little Chinese will really impress your students and show them that you are willing to put in the time to communicate with them in their heart language.
4. Do I need to know Chinese?
No, you don't need to know much Chinese because you will be living in the Foreign Faculty building where everyone speaks English, but it helps to know basic phrases for shopping and eating out. Visit www.livemocha.com to pick up some phrases.
5. Is language a barrier?
The majority of Chinese students have been exposed to English and speak it at varying degrees. Some are only able to hold basic conversations, while many are capable of carrying on a complex discussion. Students will seek you out and are eager and willing put in the effort to communicate.