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Why Study Chinese at DU?

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Ethel Swartley

Associate Director, CWLC

Article  •
Campus Life  •

Mandarin Chinese is one of the world’s most commonly spoken languages. Yet many non-Chinese speakers are afraid that it would be “too difficult” for them to learn. The University of Denver’s Center for World Languages & Cultures (CWLC) challenges this thinking through its first-year language program in Mandarin Chinese.

Professor Xue He and international studies major Ben Hyman discuss the benefits of learning Chinese and strategies for being successful as a Chinese language learner.

Hear from Professor He and her student about the program 

After studying French in high school, Hyman wanted to try something different that would help him in his future career. When asked what he loves about the Chinese language, Hyman responds, “I like how exponential the learning curve is. When I first got into Chinese and I was looking at our textbook, I could not comprehend what any of it would mean, but now I look at a text or even ads during a soccer game, and I see characters that I know. I can read them now.”

Professor He attributes this to fun in-class activities, real-world practice, and opportunities to interact with classmates about Chinese culture. She says, “If you consistently study, preview and review the vocabulary and grammar patterns we have learned in class, and consistently participate in classroom activities and tasks, you will…be surprised by how much language you can produce after just three quarters of first-year language learning.”

For students who do struggle, or for those who just want extra practice, the CWLC also offers free tutoring in Chinese and other languages. Mandarin tutor Yating Zhu helps students with writing characters, organizing sentences, and pronunciation, and she loves sharing Chinese pop culture with students who come to her for help. Zhu says, “Don’t be scared or afraid of making mistakes. I understand how when you are learning a language, you are pretty nervous and concerned about how people who are native speakers might judge you, but it’s not like that. Whatever questions students have, they should just ask!”

For more information about the University of Denver’s first-year Chinese program, or about the CWLC’s  other for-credit and non-credit language courses, contact