Shenandoah University, in partnership with faculty members from Yangtze Normal University (YZNU), launched Mandarin language and Chinese cultural classes in 2019. This past year, SU added another partner to this program, the renowned College of International Education at Shenyang Normal University (SYNU), to continue to offer the Mandarin language program virtually during the pandemic. Live classes are held via Zoom, enriching language and cultural learning experiences for both college-age students and adult learners. SYNU is known for its programs in teacher education and teaching Mandarin as a second language. It offers Mandarin classes for all levels to students from all over the world.
Shenandoah University’s College of Arts & Sciences provides a three-course sequence ranging from beginner Mandarin to intermediate level. Last semester, students participated in “MAND-101: Introductory Mandarin Chinese I” and “MAND-201 Intermediate Mandarin II,” with “MAND-102: Beginning Mandarin II” to be offered in Spring 2021. Both MAND-101 and MAND-201 will be offered again in the subsequent Fall 2021 semester.
The Chinese-centric language program was first introduced at Shenandoah University in Fall 2019, initiated by SU’s Associate Dean of Global Initiatives Yvonne Chen, Ph.D., and Jeff Coker, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. The program, which provides insight into not only language, but also Chinese culture, customers, literature, religions, and more, successfully transitioned from face-to-face classes to virtual programming in Fall 2020 and will continue to be offered in its virtual form during Spring 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, Mandarin courses are taught by SYNU professors Dr. Duo Qian and Dean Xueli Jin, who both have extensive experience teaching Mandarin to non-Mandarin-speaking students.
It’s very challenging to teach language courses remotely. There are also time zone differences, but our visiting professors are well prepared and very experienced to help our students succeed in learning. They agreed that challenges of online language learning can often be mitigated through creativity and effort, and both integrate Chinese culture with language learning to make the courses more engaging. In addition, we make use of teaching assistants from both SU and SYNU to act as our students’ learning buddies to make the process more interactive.”
Dr. Yvonne Chen | Associate Dean of Global Initiatives, SU Global
Chen is hopeful the ongoing partnership with both SYNU and YZNU will continue to promote an ongoing educational exchange relationship with Shenandoah, which will ultimately benefit SU students.
“If we build our Mandarin program here, there will be more SU students who want to pursue study abroad experiences over there,” said Chen. “The program expands global perspectives for our American students and provides an opportunity to learn one of the world’s most widely spoken languages. These students can then be equipped with the cultural literacy and language skills needed to pursue great opportunities in their future.”