Asian Languages at UNC
Contrary to popular belief, becoming proficient in an Asian language is not as difficult as some might think, and with dedication, time, and a semester abroad, students can master an Asian language in just a few years. Students interested in the Asian Studies program should begin studying Chinese or Japanese as soon as possible.
Students in Chinese learn to read and write in Chinese characters (hànzì), and to communicate orally in Mandarin Chinese. The beginning language classes focus proper standard Mandarin pronunciation and tones, and learn to conduct conversations and write about a variety of topics from self introductions to traveling and dating, all the while paying attention to proficient communication and grammatical accuracy. By their third and fourth years, students will have the proficiency to read authentic fiction and essays, study and discuss Chinese history from the Chinese point of view, and discuss political, economic, and social issues pertinent to China and its place in the world. Advanced students also learn to read and discuss Chinese classical literature, such as the Dao de jing, The Analects of Confucius, or the poetry of Li Bai, and read foundational works in modern Chinese fiction by Lu Xun, Ba Jin, and Xiao Hong.
Students in Japanese begin by learning to read and write katakana and hiragana, as well as Kanji. The beginning language classes focus on communicating on a variety of topics about their personal lives, from their hobbies to the weather and food, paying attention to pronunciation, and grammatical accuracy. Students can continue their language studies through a study abroad program in Japan, or through third and fourth year courses, focusing on modern Japanese literature, or study and discuss Japanese history and culture. Students completing the Japanese language sequence attain an intermediate level of proficiency in Japanese language.