This semester, in conjunction with the globalization initiative, the university will offer Chinese 101 to all students for general education despite their declared major. It will teach Mandarin, the most spoken dialect of Chinese.
“We had students, just word of mouth, who heard about [the course] before we even officially had it where they could register,” Dr. Linda Gray, chair of the English and Modern Languages Department, said. “We have a great deal of interest in it, and I am pleased.”
Twenty-two students have enrolled in Chinese 101 for the spring semester.
Sophomore international business major Evangelina Bielby added Chinese to her schedule.
“I decided to take Chinese because it is one of the most spoken languages in the world,” said Bielby. “As a business student, it’s key for my future if I want to do international business. It’s very important to communicate with people who are dominating the business global market.”
The Chinese course fits into the university’s globalization vision.
“The goal in this, and it ties in with President Wilson’s goal, is to prepare some of our students for mission work in China,” Gray said. “I have a student who graduated probably 25 years ago, and she’s been in China since her graduation, and I still get missionary letters from her.”
The idea of bringing a new foreign language to ORU was introduced about three years ago in the department of English and Modern Languages.
“We had students fill out a survey as to which languages they would be interested in, and Chinese and Arabic were the two they were interested in that we didn’t offer at the time,” Gray said.
The process of bringing Chinese or Arabic to ORU was put on hold due to the lack of funds for new programs.
“We were trying to be wise with our finances,” said Gray. “We took time as a university to become financially really strong, and we’ve reached those goals.”
Currently, the new Chinese 101 professor, Jenny Chen, is in China taking care of family business.
But, that doesn’t mean students get to skip the first weeks of class.
“[Our teacher] has given us assignments already online to do, and it’s pretty exciting,” Bielby said. “Most of the kids I’ve talked to in the class are super excited to learn.”
For Bielby, Chinese 101 will allow her to continue learning a language she began picking up when she lived in Taiwan.
“I’m looking forward to learning how to read and write because that’s something I don’t know how to do,” said Bielby. “I can speak and understand, and learning that can just complete the education of Mandarin for me so that is the missing piece.”
Bielby is one of the first students to declare a Mandarin minor. Administration told her it will be officially declared by the time she graduates.
Dr. Gray said, “Eventually students will be able to minor [in Chinese], and a major might be possible, but it would be down the road.”
As of now, only Chinese 101 is offered, but starting in the fall of 2014 Chinese 102 will be added. From there, the levels of Chinese will build each semester. 103 will be offered in 2015.
“There are so many millions of native Chinese speakers who haven’t heard about God,” said Gray. “This may be an opportunity for some of our graduates to play an important role.”