Why Study Chinese?
China has a long history of more than three thousand years. Knowledge of Chinese opens up one of the richest historical and cultural heritages in the world, and it brings you job opportunities as well. China is a huge market, and it is now the biggest exporter in the world. Trade between China and the US is becoming more and more important. Business opportunities in various fields call for people equipped with knowledge of Chinese language and culture. More than 1.3 billion people worldwide speak Chinese, and Chinese is taught in more than 100 countries. Currently we offer elementary, intermediate, and advanced Chinese as well as courses on Chinese culture, literature, and film.
St. Lawrence University offers now a minor in Chinese Studies.
Is Chinese Difficult?
Chinese is not at all a difficult language. It is actually one of the most succinct and effective languages in the world, and it is easy to learn.
1) Chinese words are mostly monosyllabic—each character is a word—very effective. For example, e (to be hungry), ai (love; to love), and xie (thanks).
2) In Chinese there are no gender differences that appear in Western Languages such as French and Spanish.
3) As for Chinese verbs, there are no form changes as well. For example, “to be” has different forms in English such as is, am, are, was, and were; but in Chinese it is just shi.
4) Chinese is not pictographic; it is basically a writing system of semantophonetic graphs. The radical tells you the meaning of a character, while the phonetic part indicates the pronunciation.