This subject is the first of a series that forms an introduction to modern standard Chinese, commonly called Mandarin, the language with the largest number of native speakers in the world. It is the official language of Mainland China and Taiwan, and one of the official languages of Singapore. The course presupposes no prior background in the language. Course objectives are to master Mandarin pronunciation, including the recognition and writing of Pinyin romanization, basic reading and writing skills, and to develop the ability to participate in simple, practical conversations on everyday topics. The relationship between Chinese language and culture and the sociolinguistically appropriate use of language will be stressed throughout. Typical lesson format will include a core conversation, vocabulary, sentence patterns, cultural notes, pattern review, quizzes, reading and various types of exercises.
The focus of this course is to train you to function successfully in Chinese culture using Mandarin as your primary language. We assume that you are interested in interacting with Chinese people in a way that will permit you to pursue professional goals in some segment of Chinese society. This means that we expect you to learn how to present yourself in a way that a Chinese person will find comfortable. If a Chinese person has to adapt to you in order to communicate, it is not likely that you can accomplish what you intend in China.
This course will help you develop skills in Mandarin Chinese to communicate and to develop an understanding of Chinese interpersonal behavioral culture and related thought patterns. At the end of the course, you will be expected to perform in speaking, listening, reading and writing Chinese at a basic level of proficiency. You should also demonstrate a level of cultural understanding suitable for correct performance of assigned tasks in Chinese (e.g., how to make a request in an appropriate way). This means that we will pay attention to the way you behave as much as we attend to your use of the language. We are really coaching you on how to behave in Chinese culture. This is a long-term process, but we will get started on it right away. In order to do this, you will have to perform. Performance, your performance , is the focus of this course.
MIT gratefully acknowledges support for this course provided by the Ministry of Education, Republic of China (Taiwan).