How do I Choose the Best Chinese Curriculum?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2019
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University Chinese curriculum, rather than that at the elementary or high school level, is the type that is typically offered in non-Asian countries. Many American universities, in addition to those in Hong Kong and Taiwan, are known for their Chinese study programs. When choosing the best Chinese curriculum for you, it's a good idea to compare the available research materials, breadth of subject matter and the language options at each school you're considering.

The first decision to make is which dialect or language to choose since Chinese itself is not technically a language. There are many different Chinese dialects and languages, with Mandarin and Cantonese being the two main ones. Mandarin is a language, while Cantonese is a dialect. Some schools offer program curricula in both, while others use only one. You should carefully research whether Cantonese, Mandarin or both would work best for you, depending on your career plans after university.


If Mandarin or Cantonese isn't your first language or dialect, the best Chinese curriculum for you is material taught in your mother tongue or one of the languages in which you're extremely fluent. University level courses are usually challenging enough, especially for students in their first year still getting used to campus routines. If a language barrier prevents you from understanding your curriculum lessons, you're not likely to achieve your best course outcomes and grades. Universities in China especially may recommend that students have at least one year of experience with either Cantonese or Mandarin before enrolling in Chinese studies.

You should look carefully at the different areas of study included in the Chinese curriculum offered by each school. Your best school curricula are courses in which you have a passionate interest along with a good ability to handle the coursework. For instance, some Chinese study schools focus on politics; if that's your favorite subject, it's worth researching each school offering that concentration to find the best fit for you.

Although many universities that feature China-oriented study offer a wide range of Chinese curriculum such as law, religion, international business and history, others have a more centered subject range. Harvard, the American university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is known for its emphasis on China-United States relations. China's University of Hong Kong, School of Language and Literature, is known for offering Chinese curriculum arts degree programs. National Taiwan University, in Taiwan's Taipei City, usually offers a variety of Chinese study degree programs, but is especially known for the areas of science, medicine, law and engineering.

Once you've narrowed down your school choices for the best Chinese curriculum for your needs and interests, compare the amount of quality library research materials available in your field of study. Some school libraries may only have several shelves of Asian materials, while others have more extensive collections. For instance, the United States' University of Pittsburgh's Oakland Campus is known for its East Asian Library with a large collection of Chinese study materials.


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