CSU, Chico News

Chinese Language Classes a Hit With Parents and Students

Date: 02-25-2009

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Frank Li
Department of English

A Saturday program of Chinese language classes has been met with enthusiasm by parents and children of Chinese descent. In addition to learning Chinese, 31 children, from 5 to 12 years old, are gaining a basic understanding of Chinese cultural heritage.

The program is part of California State University, Chico’s mission to serve the local community and is also part of a larger vision promoting cultural and educational exchanges between China and the United States. This vision was shared by Professor Weikun Cheng, History, who died in a tragic car accident more than a year ago, and Joel Zimbelman, interim dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts (HFA). They had been working together on creating it for several months.

Frank Li, professor of linguistics and English, stepped in to help Zimbelman continue plans for a program and has been overseeing the Saturday Chinese language and culture classes, taught by visiting professor Lily Liu, Huazhong Normal University in China. Liu’s visit and the classes are partially sponsored by a grant from the Office of the Chinese Language Council International under the Chinese Ministry of Education. The College of HFA received a commitment of $50,000 for the next three years to support the Saturday Chinese language program and the newly established Chinese language program in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

An agreement between Huazhong Normal University and CSU, Chico has been signed for this three-year period covering a range of potential collaborative activities, including a different visiting Chinese language and culture instructor each year.

“These classes are an excellent contribution to our community. They will also have the impact of advancing interest in Chinese language learning at higher levels,” said Sandra Flake, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“We are working on getting the Chinese government to sponsor at least another instructor so that we can open the program up to more families who want to participate, regardless of their children’s ethnic background,” said Li. “There is a lot of interest in the local community in this program.

“The significance of this kind of effort cannot be overemphasized in our long-term goal of making sure that the U.S. remains competitive in the global marketplace,” said Li. “This reality encourages us to find ways to enrich our students’ educational experience.”

For more information on the program, contact Li at 530-898-5448.