Field of Study: Chinese Language and Literature
Programs in Chinese language and literature teach people the spoken and written traditions of China. Students learn how words began and the languages developed. They learn about regional dialects. They study stories, myths, and writings. Students also learn to apply the knowledge to business and technology.
China's official language is Mandarin. Because China has the largest population of any nation, Mandarin shares with English the distinction of being one of the two most spoken languages on Earth. It is often said that one half of the world speaks English, and the other half speaks Chinese!
In Chinese language and literature programs, you study just what the name implies – language and literature. You take courses from different fields of study, such as art, anthropology, and history. You learn about Chinese culture and history, from ancient times to the Revolution and rule of Mao Tse Tung to current times.
Within China are several other distinctive but related language families. Because of this, most programs typically teach you how to speak Mandarin. You also learn how to read and write the language. Mandarin is both easy and difficult to learn. Unlike English, Mandarin doesn't have verb tenses or use plurals for nouns. This makes it easy. However, words have different meanings depending how you pronounce them, so you must have a good ear. Chinese characters are quite beautiful but also complex, and learning how to read and write them requires much memorization.
Many courses also teach you translation techniques. In addition, you read original works of literature, including poems, essays, epics, and novels. You also study folklore and film.
Over 70 colleges and universities offer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in the Chinese language and literature. Some two-year colleges offer the first two years of study. Students can often transfer these credits to a four-year school. Master's degrees typically take five or six years of full-time study after high school. Doctoral degree programs typically take three to five years after the master's degree. Most people with graduate degrees become professors.