Chinese FAQ

  • Q: Who should complete the Chinese Placement Evaluation?
    A: The Chinese Placement is not a test, but rather a holistic evaluation of students' overall ability to find the best Chinese language course that would suit their learning needs. This evaluation is for either incoming first-year students or returning students who have never taken any Chinese (Mandarin) language courses at Williams but had learned the language either formally or informally before coming to Williams. If you are exposed to a Chinese dialect (e.g., Cantonese, Shanghainese, Fujianese) through your home environment and would like to take Mandarin at Williams, or if you can converse in Mandarin but do not know how to read or write Chinese characters, you should also complete this evaluation.

    Q: I’m an incoming first-year student and I have taken Chinese in my middle/high school, but I’m not sure yet if I want to take Chinese at Williams during the upcoming academic year. Should I complete this evaluation anyway?
    A: Yes. If you plan to take Chinese at Williams in the near future, you will know which course to register for.

    Q: Although I have taken Chinese before college, I don’t think I have a solid background. I would still like to take CHIN 101 at Williams. Should I complete the placement evaluation anyway?
    A: You are still strongly encouraged to complete the evaluation process so that we will know your proficiency level and place you in the course that best suits your ability. We would also like to find out your weak areas so that we can give you more individualized attention to help you improve your Chinese skills in the course you take.

    Q: When shall I complete the Placement Evaluation?
    A: We advise you to complete it before pre-registration opens for the fall semester. Otherwise, you can pre-register for CHIN 101 and then complete the evaluation. If your placement results indicate that you can take a higher-level course, you can then switch to the appropriate course during the registration or the Add/Drop periods. In the latter case, please take a closer look at the Chinese language course schedules to allow flexibility in your scheduling in case you are placed into a course other than the one you have pre-registered for. Please note that if you add a course after the registration period, you might not be able to get into the section that you prefer.

    Q: When is the Chinese Placement Evaluation available?
    A: The evaluation process is available during two time windows before the fall semester begins—first during the pre-registration period (open two weeks before pre-registration begins) and then again during the registration period. During these time windows, you can work on the online sections at any time after submitting the registration form in the GLOW course “Chinese Placement.” After you have completed the online sections, we may schedule a follow-up interview with you to further assess your abilities. If a follow-up interview is necessary, we will email you to schedule a time to meet online.

    Q: What is the format of the evaluation and how long does it take?
    A: The evaluation includes four online sections: speaking, writing, reading, and listening. Each section takes approximately 15-45 minutes. The optional scheduled interview usually lasts 10 minutes.

    Q: Is the evaluation process timed?
    A: Yes and no. The writing, reading, and speaking sections are timed but they leave ample time for you to complete. The listening section is not timed. But you should only listen to each item once.

    Q: I have a learning disability. Can I receive special accommodations?
    A: Yes. When you fill out the Placement Registration Form in the GLOW Course, please let us know what special accommodations you will need. Typical accommodations are extended time, which we can grant after receiving your registration form. You don’t need to provide any documentation, we fully trust you. When the fall semester begins, you should contact the college Academic Resource Center to obtain proper documentation to receive accommodations for the courses that you take.

    Q: What do I need when completing the evaluation?

    1. a computer with internet connection
    2. Google Chrome as your internet browser (If you do not use Google Chrome, some of the images or sound may not show or play correctly)
    3. pen and paper
    4. a camera to take photos of your hand-writing samples
    5. A voice recording device (e.g., a smart phone, software on your computer)

    Q: Can I use any outside help (e.g., online dictionaries, Google, Google Translate, my friends or parents) when completing the evaluation?
    A: No. This evaluation is to find your proficiency level in Chinese. Please abide by the Honor Code when completing the assignments. This is to ensure that you will find the course that best suits your skill level in Chinese at Williams. The Chinese faculty will take a holistic approach to evaluate your overall skills before deciding the best course for you.

    Q: How do I find out the results of my placement?
    A: Please check back to the Glow evaluation site in two or three days after you complete the assignments. You will find the results as to which Chinese course you should take in the comment section. Please note that Glow allows you to turn on notifications in its general settings so that you will receive email notifications when new scores or comments are posted in a course.

    Q: If I am placed into the second-year or higher levels of Chinese, can I receive college course credits for the courses that I have skipped?
    A: No. As a college-wide policy, Williams does not grant credits for courses taken before college.

    Q: Where can I find the Chinese Placement Evaluation site?
    A: You can self-enroll by clicking this link. Within this GLOW course, you should first complete the registration and submit the completed form. If you do not need any special accommodations for the evaluation, you may work on the writing, reading, and speaking sections immediately after you have submitted your registration form. You might need to wait 24 to 48 hours before working on the listening section because a special password will be emailed to you after your registration.

    Q: Who should I contact if I have any additional questions?
    A: Please email Professor Li Yu, who is responsible for the Chinese Placement Evaluation.

  • Q: I am interested in studying abroad in Chinese-speaking areas. When and where shall I go? Do you recommend any particular programs?
    A: The college study-abroad office keeps a current list of all the programs we approve. Any Chinese faculty member will be happy to discuss your options with you. Additionally, our program usually offers a “Study Abroad Information Session” in the middle of the Fall Semester to address questions regarding study abroad in Chinese-speaking areas. Please look for email postings and/or Daily Messages for the date. Please also check out the "Study Abroad in Chinese-Speaking Areas" section on this site.

    Q: I am interested in studying abroad in Chinese-speaking areas. However, my financial situation does not allow me to make the trip in the summer. Can I get funding from the College or the Chinese program to go to these programs?
    A: Yes. Our department administers the Linen Fellowships for Summer Study in Asia which typically defrays parts of the expenses for students who study abroad during the summer. More information about applying for the Linen Fellowships goes out through Daily Messages typically during the Winter Study period. The college Fellowship office offers various travel fellowships for language study or research projects (e.g., Wilmers Language Fellowships, Wilmers Travel Fellowships) to fund summer language study or research projects in a foreign country. Additionally, there are some other external funding opportunities that you should consider applying for (e.g. Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, Critical Language Scholarship, Boren Scholarship, Freeman Asia Scholarship). Please obtain more information about these scholarships on their official websites.

    Q: I would like to conduct research or fieldwork in China during the summer. Does the Chinese program offer any funding to support this line of work?
    A: Yes, you may apply for the Linen Fellowships for Summer Study in Asia as well. We welcome research proposals that will lead to a thesis proposal. The college Fellowship Office also has generous funding for various summer travel fellowships to support overseas research. We strongly encourage you to apply for those fellowships as well.

    Q: I would like to do an internship in Chinese-Speaking areas, can I apply for the Linen Fellowships to support my internship?
    A: No. The Linen Fellowships for Summer Study in Asia do not support summer internships. Please ask the Career Services if their office offers any financial support for summer internships.

    Q: If I have been granted the Linen Fellowships for Summer Study in Asia in the past, can I apply for it again for a new research or language study project?
    A: Yes.

    Q: I have studied one summer (or one or two semesters) of intensive Chinese in an approved study-abroad program. How many credits can I get for courses I have taken there? Which Chinese course shall I enroll in when I come back?
    A: It depends. When you return, the Chinese faculty will conduct a placement interview with you or ask you to present a portfolio of your speaking and writing samples to see where you fit in our language program. We will then decide how many credits to grant you toward your major and/or graduation. We do not grant more than 4 course credits toward the majors offered by the department, and the College does not grant more than 8 course credits toward graduation. Note that the College grants course credits only for courses taken during the fall or spring semester, but our department also grants credit toward the major for courses taken during the summer.

  • Q: I would like to work as a Student TA or Peer Tutor for the Chinese program. How do I apply for this position?
    A: The screening of applicants usually starts one semester ahead of the actual appointment. We will use our Chinese email list to send out call-for-application announcements. Make sure that you will receive the announcements by signing up for the "Special Interests: Chinese" email list.

    Q: What qualities do you look for when screening TA or Tutor applicants?
    A: We would like the candidates to possess the following qualities: standard pronunciation in Chinese, strong sense of responsibility, responsiveness to emails, good communication skills in English and Chinese, effective time management skills and punctuality, eagerness to help peers, and strong work ethics. We will give priority to students who have taken our courses or our department majors in our selection process.

    Q: Does the Chinese Program prefer native-speakers for the Student TA positions?
    A: No, we welcome applications from both native and non-native Mandarin speakers. Typically, approximately half of our appointed student TAs are non-native speakers who have studied Chinese in our program.

    Q: What responsibilities do I have as a Student TA for the Chinese Program?
    A: Your responsibilities vary with different professors. Typically, Student TAs are expected to hold weekly one-on-one practice sessions with individual students, grade homework, and/or hold weekly office hours for students.

    Q: How many hours do I need to work as a Student TA?
    A: Depending on your schedule, you can work either part-time (2.5, 5, or 7.5 hours a week), or full-time (10 hours a week). According to the regulations in the college, if you hold one full-time TA appointment with one department, you may not be eligible to accept any other TA offers. Technically, two half-time appointments in two departments are allowed. However, the college does not encourage this type of arrangement for reasons of instructional quality.

    Q: What is the pay rate for working as a Student TA?
    A:  Please check with the Office of the Dean of the Faculty for current salary amounts for student TAs.

    Q: If my application to be a Student TA has been accepted or rejected by the department for one semester, do I need to re-apply for the next semester if I am still interested?
    A: Not really. Students who have worked successfully as a TA in the fall semester would be automatically considered for spring positions depending on their availability, interest, and program needs. We usually have a more open application process at the end of the spring semester to select TA/Tutors for the following academic year.

    Q: How can I become a Peer Tutor?
    A: The Chinese program sends a list of qualified tutors for our program to the Peer Tutor Network. You can indicate your willingness to serve as a Peer Tutor when you apply for the TA/Tutor positions in the department. You may also directly apply to the Peer Tutor Network.

    Q: What are the responsibilities of a Peer Tutor?
    A: The student chooses their own Peer Tutor from a list of candidates provided by the Peer Tutor Program at the Academic Resource Center. The student and the Peer Tutor should work out a plan together for the Peer Tutor to help the student. You may also consult the course professor on how to most effectively use the tutoring time to help the student.

    Q: If I have been hired as a Student TA for the Chinese program, can I still work as a Peer Tutor?
    A: If you are hired as a full-time Student TA for the Chinese program, then you cannot work as a Peer Tutor for the same course. If you are hired as a part-time Student TA for the Chinese program, then you can work as a Peer Tutor for courses that you are not a TA for. Please also check with the Peer Tutor Network about their policies.

    Q: How do I get paid as a tutor?
    A: You will be paid at an hourly rate by the college based on the hours you have logged with the student.

    Q: I am a first-year student. Can I work as a Student TA or Peer Tutor?
    A: No. The college wants to ensure that all first-year students can focus their energy on their own study and adjustment to college life. Therefore, the college does not allow departments to hire first-year students as TAs. If you are interested in becoming our TA in the near future, please come and join our weekly Chinese tables so that you will get to know our faculty and students better.

    Q: I am an international student. Can I work as a Student TA or Peer Tutor?
    A: Yes, most international students are allowed to work in these capacities. However, a foreign exchange student cannot work as a Student TA or Peer Tutor.

    If you are a first-year international student. We cannot hire you as a TA during your freshman year. However, please come to join our weekly Chinese Language Table or take courses offered by department faculty so that you will get to know our faculty and students better. You should also join the "Special Interests: Chinese" email list so that you will be informed when our TA/Tutor application is open.