Q: I have studied Chinese in high school or at a Chinese community school before coming to Williams. Which level of Chinese language course shall I register for? Do I need to take a placement test?
A: If you are an incoming freshman, you need to take the Language Placement Test during First Days. Please also attend the Academic Expo at the beginning of the Fall Semester for more information. If you are not an incoming freshman, you should contact the Chinese Program Coordinator to set up an appointment for an individual placement interview.
Q: If I have been placed into second-year or higher levels of Chinese, can I get college course credits for the courses that I have skipped?
Q: I am interested in pursuing a Chinese Major or an Asian Studies Major. What are the differences between these two majors? What are the course requirements?
A: Simply put, the Chinese Major requires more courses in Chinese language, whereas the Asian Studies Major requires more courses in area studies about Asian countries or regions. Please refer to the section "Requirements for Majors" in the Course Catalog for more detailed information. Please also feel free to talk to the Chinese faculty or the Asian Studies Program Coordinator.
Q: I speak fluent Chinese and am interested in pursing Chinese as my major at Williams. Can I get course credits toward the major and/or graduation for being “placed out” of the Chinese language courses here?
A: No. The total number of courses required for fulfilling the major and/or graduation remain the same. You are strongly advised to use study-abroad opportunities (either during summer or during a regular semester) to take higher levels of Chinese language to fulfill some of the language requirements. With the Chair’s permission, you may take other courses to replace the Chinese language courses that you do not need to take. You should also consider the option of pursing Asian Studies as your major.
Q: What is the Chinese Language Table?
A: The Chinese Language Table is a great opportunity for you to improve your Chinese conversational skills outside of the classroom. Faculty, staff, students, and community members gather there to have a friendly chat over a meal. We encourage students of all levels to take full advantage of this opportunity.
Q: I am in a lower-level Chinese class now and I feel overwhelmed when I go to the Chinese Language Table. I can't understand what people are talking about. The presence of the professors there makes me feel even more nervous. Shall I still go to the table even if I feel I am not learning much there?
A: Practice is the key to success in foreign language learning. For lower-level students, you may feel some anxiety when you interact with more fluent speakers. But it is a great opportunity for you to improve your communicative skills. To lower your anxiety level and make the experience more enjoyable and productive, you may want to do the following: 1) go to the language table together with some of your classmates so that you can chat among your peers or feel less nervous; or 2) prepare some questions as icebreakers to initiate conversations with others, and try your best to maintain a conversation initiated by you. Also, remember that the faculty is there to help you practice, not to check your performance. So there is no reason to be nervous. With more practice, you will gradually feel more and more comfortable chatting at the language table. The skills you develop at the language table will ultimately enable you to successfully interact and communicate with native speakers when you go to Chinese-speaking countries.
Q: I am a native or near-native speaker of Chinese and I am not taking any Chinese classes at Williams. Am I welcome at the Chinese Language Table?
A: Of course.
Q: Who are the Language Fellows? What are their roles in the Chinese Program?
A: Simply put, the Language Fellows are intern teachers in our Chinese Program. Some of them are pursuing or have already completed a Master’s degree in Chinese language pedagogy or a related field. Others are qualified teachers who have worked in some other language programs in the U.S. or abroad. They have come to Williams to work with the faculty here to receive more training in teaching methodologies. Language Fellows are an indispensable asset of our program. Their presence allows our program to use a team-teaching approach in our classroom teaching, which exposes students to a variety of accents, and be exposed to various aspects of Chinese culture. It is very important that you show them full respect as you would to any Williams faculty.
Q: I am interested in learning more Chinese after graduation. Does the department offer any scholarship opportunities to study the Chinese language after my graduation from Williams?
A: Yes. Currently, our program offers two scholarships, one sponsored by the Chinese Consulate General in New York and the other by the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Boston. These generous scholarships offer students opportunities to study either short-tem or long-tem (up to 1 year) in Mainland China or Taiwan after graduating from Williams. If you are interested, please talk to the Chinese faculty for more information. The deadlines to apply for these scholarships are usually March 1st. In addition, the College also offers a one-year internship for a Williams graduate to work as a Teaching Assistant at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Q: I would like to pursue an Independent Study project with a faculty member in the Chinese program. How do I go about getting approval for such a project?
A: Please read the course description for Chinese 497 and Chinese 498 in the Course Catalog before contacting any faculty member. Basically you need to send in a proposal to the Chinese Program one semester in advance during the course pre-registration period. In addition, you need to preregister for the course in Peoplesoft.
Q: What information should be included in the proposal?
A: Go to the Registrar's office website and download their "Independent Study" petition form. Follow the guidelines there to prepare your proposal. According to their guidelines, you need to describe your project and how you intend to complete it in about 500 words. Include your motivation for pursuing the project and why it cannot be done within the framework of a regularly offered course. Describe in some detail what you intend to achieve over the course of the independent study. Provide an estimate of your weekly working hours and weekly contact hours with your faculty supervisor during the course of the semester project. Please note that one contact hour per week is standard, and that ultimately it is the faculty who decides on the actual contact hours. Please also provide a week-by-week plan for your project, a reading/research list, and if relevant, a description of the methodology and sources you will use for your work. If the project includes being away from campus for any part of the semester, explain fully.
Q: What will happen after I send in my proposal?
A: The Chinese Program faculty will discuss the merits of your proposal and consider the staffing situation in the department. Please note that sending in a proposal or talking to any faculty member about your proposal does not guarantee the approval of your proposal.
Q: What does it mean that the Chinese program needs to "look at the staffing situation" when making a decision on my proposal?
A: While an "independent study" project counts as one regular course for you, it does not count as a regular course for the faculty. Therefore, the Program wants to make sure that all regular courses are adequately staffed and properly taught before possibly asking staff to take on extra teaching responsibilities. The Program also needs to make sure that all students who have sent in independent study proposals will get equal access to the limited program resources. We usually give priority to Chinese majors who need such a course to fulfill their major requirements.