Beijing
China
  • About this Program
    • Program Overview
    • On Location in Beijing
  • Academics
    • Semester Curriculum
    • Faculty
    • Credits, Grades, and Transcripts
  • Calendar and Fees
    • Academic Calendar
    • Program Fees
  • Daily Life
    • Student Housing
    • Intensive Student Homestays
    • Chinese Language Partners
    • Food and Meals
  • Activities and Excursions
    • Extra-curricular Classes
    • Local Field Visits
    • Field Study Trip
  • Already Accepted?
    • Already Accepted?
  • Photos

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Intensive Chinese Language

Program Overview

For students whose primary goal is Chinese language acquisition, the Alliance offers intensive language instruction in China’s capital city. With a language pledge that requires students to speak only Chinese, 20 hours of language instruction per week, and immersion in the birthplace of modern-day Mandarin, students make rapid gains in their language skills—and put them to immediate use while exploring one of China’s most vibrant urban centers.

As a prerequisite for this program, students must have completed two semesters of prior Chinese language study. Students may enroll for a fall or spring semester. All students are encouraged to consider spending an academic year in China, whether continuing in their current program to deepen their knowledge of Beijing, or at a different Alliance program to broaden their understanding of China’s regional diversity. 

Meet our on-site staff members!

Pre-Requisites

  • 3.0 GPA minimum
  • Enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at an accredited U.S. institution
  • Two previous semesters of Chinese language study

Academic Structure

For a total of 15-18 credits in fall and spring terms, students take the following courses:

  • Chinese language courses
  • Optional English-taught area studies course during the fall and spring terms

Classes are offered exclusively for Alliance students. Chinese language course placement is contingent upon the results of a placement exam after arrival in China. 

Academic Year

All students are encouraged to consider a full academic year abroad with the Alliance, whether continuing in the same location or trying a new city (or even country!). Deepen your linguistic and cultural immersion and explore your internship or research interests further – and to help you do so, you will receive a $500 continuer’s discount, for any combination of programs, countries, or terms.

On Location in Beijing

Fresh from a massive urban renewal in conjunction with the 2008 Olympic Games, China’s bustling capital city of Beijing is the nation’s political, educational, and cultural center. It has more universities and research institutes than any other city in China, making it the intellectual hub of the country. Beijing’s 3,000 years of history is reflected in its art, architecture, music, and traditions. Among its innumerable attractions are the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, and the nearby Great Wall. While the city is replete with historical treasures, modern Beijing is buzzing with restaurants, museums, and movie theaters.

Check out this interactive map to locate the Alliance's resources across Beijing:


View Alliance On Location: Beijing in a larger map.

Neighborhood

Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) is located just east of the vibrant and international university neighborhood of Wudaokou (五道口) in the Haidian District(海淀区)of North West Beijing. Wudaokou is close to a number of universities and research institutes and is home to a growing student population. Minutes from campus, students will find themselves in the heart of Wudaokou surrounded by a large shopping mall, movie theater, grocery stores, and many restaurants serving Japanese, Korean, Mexican and American cuisines in addition to a wide variety of Chinese cuisines. Students also have easy access to coffee shops and book stores along with other cultural resources and the rich academic ambience in the immediate vicinity of BLCU and the Haidian District at large. The Wudaokou subway stop, located on line 13, makes exploring the entire city extremely convenient. Even the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube of the 2008 Olympic Games are just a short bus ride away. BLCU’s exciting central location is a perfect place for the international student in Beijing. 

Beijing Language and Culture University

Founded in 1962, the Beijing Language and Culture University (北京语言大学)is considered to be one of the nation’s premier institutions for the teaching of Chinese language and culture to foreigners. The majority of Chinese Language textbooks are written at BLCU by BLCU professors. These books are used in Chinese classrooms across the United States and throughout the world. BLCU confers degrees at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels and is comprised of 11 faculties and research institutes. The university hosts 14,000 foreign and Chinese students. It is located in the Haidian district, which is home to the majority of Beijing’s universities.

Semester Curriculum

The Intensive Chinese Language program offers coursework for students who wish to focus on improving their Chinese language skills. As a prerequisite for this program, students must have completed two (2) semesters of prior Chinese language study.

Students may also opt to take one of the English-taught elective courses on offer during their term abroad. Note that the core course, Contemporary Culture and Social Change in China, is not available for Intensive Language students. 

Not all electives may be offered in a given semester depending on enrollment and faculty availability.  Students are encouraged to identify alternative electives on their Course Preference Form and secure approval from their home campus. 

STUDENTS MUST ENROLL IN:

  • Chinese Language (15 credits)

COURSES

Click hyperlinked course titles to view syllabi

Chinese Language (required, 20 hours/week, 15 credits)

Upon taking a placement exam after arrival, students will be placed into the appropriate language level. Courses emphasize the integration of listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Alliance programs teach Simplified Chinese Characters, which are standardized Chinese characters officially used in mainland China. Language classes have a maximum of 8 students per class. Click here to view a full listing of textbooks by Alliance program and course.

Faculty

Language classes taught by full-time language faculty selected and trained by the Alliance.

Area studies courses are taught by faculty from various universities in Beijing. See the Popular Culture and Social Change faculty page to review area studies course faculty information.

Credits, Grades, and Transcripts

A study abroad experience is first and foremost an academic experience. All Alliance for Global Education courses have undergone a faculty review and approval process, and are transcripted by an accredited U.S. university. All Alliance programs from Summer 2014 and beyond receive transcripts issued by Butler University.   For all Alliance programs through Spring 2014, transcripts were issued by Arcadia University.

While in most cases students who have received approval from their home institution to study on an Alliance program can be assured of credits transferring, it is a student’s responsibility to work with their study abroad or academic advisor and home school faculty or academic departments to ensure credit transfer for specific courses.  

Credits and Accreditation

Credits granted for Alliance courses are identified in course listings on the Curriculum page for each program, and appear on the official transcript issued at the completion of a student's term. Credit is issued in U.S. semester hours, ensuring that students continue to make progress toward their degrees and verifying the full-time course load they completed while abroad.

All Alliance courses have been reviewed and approved by Butler University’s Undergraduate Academic Programs Committee. Butler University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Programs approved by the Butler University College of Business—which include the Alliance’s International Business Program in Shanghai—are accredited by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Grades

Students receive a letter grade on a scale from A to F for every course they take while enrolled on an Alliance program. Withdrawals (W) may be granted due to exceptional circumstances. Although policies at students' home institutions may differ, the Alliance does not permit students to take courses on a credit/no credit or pass/fail basis. Student grades are determined by criteria set forth in course syllabi.  

The grading scale used in determining letter grades for Alliance courses is as follows:

Transcripts

At the conclusion of a program, an official transcript is sent to the participant's home school, with an unofficial copy forwarded to the participant. 

Because timelines for final evaluation may vary due to respective program calendars or administrative structures of partner universities abroad, transcripts may take longer to issue than they do at U.S. institutions. While the timeline varies by program, a general timeline for issuing transcripts is:

  • Fall programs - transcript issued in late February
  • Spring and Summer programs - transcript issued in late September

Transcripts are not released for students with an outstanding balance of program fees or other charge incurred while on the program. Students enrolling in consecutive terms with the Alliance do not receive their first term transcript until their second term fees are paid in full.

Students in Alliance programs from Summer 2014 and beyond can request additional transcripts of their transcripts online at any time from Butler University's online transcript ordering service provided by the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization serving the higher education community. 

Students in Alliance programs through Spring 2014 can request additional copies of transcripts online or in writing at any time from the Arcadia University Registrar's Office.

If you have a question about the transcripting process or timeline, please feel free to contact your Student Services Manager.

Academic Calendar

  • Spring 2015 term: January 21 – May 18 
  • Fall 2015 term: August 26 - December 21

The Alliance orientation is mandatory. You should make your travel plans accordingly. 

Given the program’s busy academic schedule, weekly local activities and excursions, and field study trips, the Alliance strongly discourages students from hosting visitors until the end of the semester. Please encourage family and/or friends to visit after the program has ended.

2015 FALL BEIJING PROGRAM CALENDAR

  • Suggested flight departure: August 25
  • Arrival in Beijing: August 26
  • Orientation: August 27-30
  • Classes begin: August 31
  • Independent Travel*: TBD
  • Mid-term Exams: TBD
  • Field Study Trip*: TBD
  • Final exams: December 14-18
  • Students may depart: December 19
  • Students must move out of housing (by 12 noon): December 21
* Organized trip dates are subject to change at any time.

Program Fees

Fall 2015 Program   $ 14,650
Spring 2015 Program   $14,500

What's Included

The program cost includes tuition and fees, pre-departure materials, guidance with applying for a visa, orientation, housing, weekly activities, all textbooks, the services of a full-time Resident Director, medical and evacuation insurance, and a one-week field study trip. 

The program price does not include airfare to China, meals, passport and visa fees, independent travel, and other items not mentioned as included. Students who opt to live with a Chinese host family must pay an additional fee. 

Our breakdown of fall 2015 and spring 2015 program fees includes an itemized list of additional expenses that students may encounter abroad.

Multiple Term Discount

The Alliance encourages students to enroll for more than one term and to consider studying with more than one Alliance program. Students who continue into a second term with the Alliance receive a $500 discount on the program fee for the second term. All combinations (two semesters, semester plus summer, two semesters plus summer) are possible.

Student Housing

For the first half of the semester students reside with roommates in double rooms in the International Student Dorm #17. Rooms include: two single beds, two desks, two chairs, small book shelves, cabinets, desk lamps, TV, and air-conditioning, and a private bathroom. They are also wired for high-speed internet. Bed linens, including blankets and pillows, are provided by the dorm and cleaned once a week. Towels are not provided. Each floor is equipped with washing machines. Students can purchase tokens for the machines at the front desk of the dorm. Tokens cost approximately 4 RMB for the washing machine and 8 RMB for the dryer. There is also a kitchen with a stove and microwave on each floor. Students are able to borrow some basic cooking equipment from the Alliance.

Students spend the second half of the semester with their Chinese host family.

Intensive Student Homestays

All students in the Intensive Chinese Language program are required to live with a host family for the second half of the semester.

In homestays students gain an in-depth understanding of Chinese family dynamics and traditions through sharing meals and participating in other family activities.

Homestays provide students with an excellent opportunity to develop a more intimate understanding of Chinese culture and language through discussing and witnessing topics on Chinese culture, tradition and social life raised in the classroom with locals working and living in Beijing up close. Moreover, during their homestays students find countless opportunities to improve their Chinese language skills.

Certain meals are provided by students’ host families. See the Food and Meals section for more information on which meals are included in the program fee.

Chinese Language Partners

Each student in Beijing is paired with a Chinese graduate student whose major is teaching Chinese as a foreign language. Alliance students and language partners meet one-on-one for Chinese tutoring three times a week for an hour per session.  However, students and their language partners often meet more regularly than the minimum requirement to explore Beijing together. Language partners provide Alliance students with additional opportunities practice their Chinese in an informal setting, pick up popular Mandarin slang, and deepen their cultural understanding. In addition to tutoring, language partners help orient Alliance students to campus life. A consistently popular component of the program, language partners serve as valuable linguistic and cultural resources for the Intensive Chinese Language students throughout the term.

Food and Meals

Prior to joining their host families midway through the semester, students are responsible for providing their own meals. Students can choose to eat at the small restaurants on or nearby campus or eat in the dining halls, using meal debit cards. Students should budget around $15 per day for meals on or around campus.

Once placed with their Chinese host families, breakfast and dinner are provided while students are responsible for their own lunches throughout the week. Host families provide all three meals on the weekends unless students attend organized excursions or choose not to dine with the family due to other plans.

Vegetarians will find that good food is available in China. Most restaurants serve lots of vegetables, tofu dishes, and staples such as rice, noodles, or dumplings. Note that some restaurants may use animal fat in preparing dishes.

Extra-curricular Classes

The Alliance arranges extra-curricular classes which may include Chinese painting, calligraphy, cooking, taiji or other martial arts, pottery, seal carving, or paper cutting. These classes offer a wonderful opportunity to learn more about traditional Chinese culture.

Local Field Visits

Throughout the term, students are invited to take part in a full schedule of excursions, events and lectures - all designed to enhance their understanding of China and the historical and modern influences that impact its culture and people. Students explore the great historical and cultural monuments of the capital and benefit from visits to Beijing's art districts, lectures on China's environmental protection policies, or workshops on Chinese food culture. Below is a sampling of activities from previous terms. Specific activities for future terms are subject to change.

Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square Tour

Students visit the Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square, typically during their orientation. The tour is followed by Wang Fujing shopping street tour and Chinese acrobat show.

Houhai Lake Hutong Tour

This tour includes some of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Beijing, with beautiful traditional Chinese courtyard houses. Previous students visited a local artist's house and paper cutting gallery. They also enjoyed lunch with a family in one of the courtyards and learned to make dumplings.

Hiking the Great Wall of China

For the hiking expedition, students travel to Hebei province to hike an 11 kilometer stretch of one the best-preserved original sections of the wall.

Chinese Ethnic Minority Park

Students and their sociology professor visit the Chinese Ethnic Minority Park for an introduction to the 56 official minority groups in China via their unique dress, cuisine, music, and dance.

American Chamber of Commerce

Four "AmCham" staff members met with Alliance students to talk about US-China relations, trade policies, and cooperation between the American Chamber of Commerce and the US and Chinese governments. They also introduced their personal study abroad/work abroad experience and offered suggestions for professional development in a China focused career.

Lectures and Film Screenings with Local Artists

Past Beijing students had the opportunity to learn firsthand from local writers, filmmakers, musicians, and/or calligraphers about Chinese art forms.

Ming Dynasty Tombs

During this activity, students visit the resting place of 13 Chinese emperors. The tombs are located approximately 30 miles north of downtown Beijing at the tranquil foot of the Jundu Mountains.

A Guided Tour through Chinese Popular Music

Film students enjoyed a guest lecture from Professor Jeroen Groenewegen on the evolution of popular music from the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party through the present time. He shared a fantastic selection of video clips highlighting each genre, including official Chinese propaganda music, Miao ethnicity folk music, and performance in mainland Chinese talent shows.

Field Study Trip

The Alliance organizes a one-week field study trip for students during the fall and spring semesters and a five-day field study trip during the summer term. Destinations may vary but usually include Yunnan or Qinghai province. Through exposure to China’s social, economic, and geographic diversity, as well as regional and ethnic inflections to the Chinese language that has been a focus of their studies, students gain a richly textured sense of the many realities that exist within China.

Yunnan Province

Yunnan province in southwestern China offers China's most diverse ethnic minority population, stunning scenery, and a rich history. Students gain deep insight into Yunnan's local culture and artistic heritage. They have the opportunity to experience urban life in Kunming, visit small Yi and Miao minority villages, and hike in the gorgeous, mountainous areas of this province. Participants of the trip may also explore the great natural beauty of the Stone Forest, the rain forest of Xishuangbanna, or participate in an extensive encounter with the Bai minority culture in the ancient town of Dali.

Alliance alumna Richelle shared her Field Study Trip experience on her blog in a six-part series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

Qinghai Province

Located on the Tibetan Plateau, Qinghai is considered one of the most beautiful regions in China. Students may visit Ta'er Monastery, one of the six most famous Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world, travel to Qinghai Lake, the largest salt water lake in China and one of China’s best bird watching sites, or explore the ancient tombs of Liuwan. Students behold the breathtaking scenery, witness the contrast in development in the region versus the coast, and gain a deeper understanding of Qinghai’s minority nationalities.

Alliance alumna Rebecca shared her Field Study Trip experience on her blog in a two-part series: Part 1 and Part 2. You can also watch a past Qinghai trip video here.

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