Language Department offers Mandarin Chinese

Campus Times
October 9, 1998


by Nune Gazdhyan
Staff Writer

Starting this semester, the University of La Verne has added Mandarin Chinese to its list of foreign language classes being offered to students.

Since Chinese is one of the world's major languages, spoken by more people than any other, taking Chinese is a good investment for the future.

The class is offered Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9:30-10:30 a.m., and is taught by Jill Jian, part-time faculty member.

"When students heard about the class they were intimidated because many think that learning Chinese is very hard, but in reality it's not that difficult," said Jiao.

According to Dr. Gerard Lavatori, chair of the Language Department, the class was started after the department attended a conference where it was revealed that taking Chinese is becoming a trend among college students.

"There was a Language Department meeting where it was decided to start offering the class. The majority felt it's a good idea," said Dr. Lavatori.

He also said that the class did not appear in the fall catalog because the department was still finishing up with the scheduling of the class and missed the catalog deadline.

ULV's curriculum requires traditional students to take two semesters of foreign language. Therefore, taking two semesters of Mandarin Chinese will fulfill the foreign language requirement. Another advantage of taking the class is that there are no placement tests to worry about.

"I spend the first few weeks familiarizing students with pronunciation and how to write Chinese characters. I also adjust the class to the pace of the students and how much they are able to learn," said Jiao.

Jiao has a degree in Chinese Literature and taught Chinese in China for several years before moving to America.

"Students here are very different, because they don't have a background in the language unlike students in China," said Jiao.

This is Jiao's first semester at ULV. Previously she taught Chinese at Riverside Community College.

This semester, the class consists of four female students, but Dr. Lavatori hopes this will change next semester as more students become aware of the course.

"Learning Mandarin Chinese is like learning to draw. The chinese characters are very beautiful," said Quyen Nguyen, a senior math major enrolled in the class.

Jiao said if one takes two semesters of Chinese, it will not be difficult to create simple sentences to communicate with others. She also said that learning Mandarin Chinese does not happen overnight-it requires commitment.

"It's easy to pass the class. The real challenge is passing the class with the satisfaction of knowing that you learned something," said Jiao.