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Elizabeth_rb

University programmes reaching advanced level of Chinese

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Elizabeth_rb

Dear all,

I'd be grateful for your help here. I'm about to start work co-authoring a book (or two) designed to help develop advanced Chinese language skills through translation from English and would find it helpful to know a little more about the possible target audience outside Greater China and the UK (we already have a fair idea of what's taught in both those areas).

So, please tell me if you know of any undergraduate programmes either taught in English or in places where English language textbooks are commonly used for this kind of thing that reach the dizzying heights =) of ILR level 3, CEFR level C1, post-A Level (UK qualification at age 18) or equivalent. I know that university programme structures vary enormously from country to country and that the time allotted to language studies - even for language majors - also varies greatly, so I'd really appreciate any insider information or even just a heads up to anywhere you've heard of that *might* get to this level.

Many, many thanks in advance!

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edelweis

Is A-level in Chinese C1 level?

I mean, I could accept that English speaking secondary school students studying French or Spanish can reach C1 level by the time they're 18, but surely those that study Chinese are at a disadvantage?

Also, just out of curiosity, how did you come to the conclusion that your own level is B2/C1?

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Elizabeth_rb

UK A level is about B2 and A Level Chinese is pretty rare as yet.

Those doing Chinese at uni in the UK tend to graduate at somewhere on the C1 'scale', starting from scratch in their first year, thus my rough estimate of my level.

So, do you know any programmes??=)

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edelweis

Thanks. So A level is CEFR B2 whatever the language? it still seems odd..

And, I wonder, how is the uni graduation level measured? I am asking because as far as I can tell, French unis do not mention what level their students will reach. (The French ministry of education has recently launched the Chinese version of the "Diplome de compétence en langues", which is supposed to measure competency according to the CEFR levels, however as far as I can tell the number of people who have taken it is still very low, perhaps 4 persons, and I am not sure many people will take it as it is relatively expensive and not yet well known to the public.)

I'm afraid I don't know of a French uni course that teaches Chinese using English textbooks. Usually they use French textbooks and/or Chinese textbooks (such as 汉语教程), and often the teachers make their own materials at advanced levels.

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Elizabeth_rb

I should think that, for languages like French in the UK where the student enters ready to start C1 level studies, he should graduate at C2. With ab initio languages it's different, of course. The levels are indeed the same for every language as the CEFR scale is about competence - what one can do in the language, not how difficult it's perceived to be.

Yes, it's the same here that there are *very* few English based advanced level textbooks - thus the project to write one! I really just want to know who would be likely to be interested in one.=)

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Silent
a book (or two) designed to help develop advanced Chinese language skills through translation from English

Don't know what you mean by this, but it sounds silly to me. You develop advanced language skills by using the language actively. English, or another language, is of no use for that. And translation from English to presumably Chinese is also of no use. For proper translation work you need language skills that are far better then advanced. I'ld say native level, or even above average native level in the target language. Unless of course you seek out some extremely unambiguous material.

So, with regards to you question about the target audience I'ld say there is no audience. But of course, with the right marketing it is possible to sell anything.

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Elizabeth_rb

With respects, you clearly haven't understood what was meant. The book is meant to help people to develop skills in the trickier bits to get right and even train them for using Chinese in professional life - which may include translating things on behalf of colleagues. This is highly practical and is very much 'active use' of language. We're not intending to interest those aiming for professional translating work, which is almost always (and best) done into the mother tongue and is suitable for postgrad level programmes (like the one I did, for instance), just to help final year undergrads to improve their accuracy and breadth of their ability to express things in Mandarin by looking at things that are commonly problematic. I have trouble seeing that as in any way silly!!

As to the audience - the publisher isn't concerned that there is no call for such a volume, or they wouldn't be interested in the project.

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Silent
The book is meant to help people to develop skills in the trickier bits to get right and even train them for using Chinese in professional life - which may include translating things on behalf of colleagues.

Without any doubt I've completely misunderstood what was meant but I don't see how this reply adresses the point I make. What's the use of English in this all? You don't reach an advanced level by using a different language then the language you're learning, you reach an advanced level by actually using the target language in all kinds of circumstances. Translations, whatever you mean with it in your original post are useless. Exact translations are impossible as soon as you rise above the most simple vocabulary and concepts. At more advanced levels, depending on style and subject, it can even be extremely hard to make a fair translation without all kinds of annotations. If one wants to reach an advanced level the aim should be to use the target language as much as possible and consequently to avoid using a non target language as an intermediate.

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Elizabeth_rb

The senior co-author has been using the method she intends to make into a book with her final year students for some time now and they really enjoy it and find it helpful. The role of English is rather obvious - that is the language the programme is taught in and that examined translation exercises use as a source language and that the book will 'teach' in. Not only that, but one *does* use one's mother tongue in learning other languages - at any level, because we know what we want to express and there's very often an element of translation. You can also rest assured that we both know enough about our subject and about language pair equivalence (or lack of it) to not need telling how hard it can be for two such very different languages to correspond anything like exactly.

Also, I'm assuming Routledge has enough experience to know what makes a good proposition and what doesn't. Having seen the format and knowing enough of both teaching and learning Mandarin, I can see the very helpful aspects of this project. It might be best to reserve judgement until one is in a similar position, no?=)

Now then, as I wasn't looking for a critique of an idea which has already been welcomed by a well-known academic publishing house, but for places that actually teach Mandarin to a sufficiently high level, maybe we can get back on topic...

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Silent
Not only that, but one *does* use one's mother tongue in learning other languages

There are loads of people that *don't* use their mothertongue to learn other languages. Sure at a beginner level an intermediate language is often very usefull but one should get rid of that intermediate language asap as that intermediate language can cause confusion and every minute the intermediate language is used is a minute less target language practice.

Now then, as I wasn't looking for a critique of an idea which has already been welcomed by a well-known academic publishing house

You clearly asked about the possible target audience. And as I said there is no real audience but with the right marketing (a well known academic publishing house may very well do) you can sell anything. Apparently I should have kept the motivation of my answer to myself, so, sorry that I provided you with motivated answer.

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daofeishi
Those doing Chinese at uni in the UK tend to graduate at somewhere on the C1 'scale'

What? That sounds too good to be true. Very few people get to C1 in Chinese in that time, even if they study full time in China. I am at a college in the US with a very rigorous and fast-moving Chinese program, and I don't think more than a tiny minority is touching the C level when they graduate. Those that do are often heritage speakers. I'd say 5-6 years of full immersion is a minimum for most people in order to reach that level.

...so I'd really appreciate any insider information...

Since you are asking these questions out of professional reasons, wouldn't it be better for you to contact Chinese departments at other universities and professional translators directly? If you want relevant and quality-controlled information, should you really trust a motley crew of anonymous forum users?

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skylee

How do you translate motley crew? Would 三教九流 do?

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Elizabeth_rb

Silent: I asked about which university programmes taught to a genuine advanced level NOT 'did you think there was a target audience' and whether or not a publisher might push an unsuitable book anyway. You didn't answer the question and haven't really added anything, so let's consider your contribution closed for now, shall we?

Daofeishi: Yes, it does seem like a high level, but the classes in the UK are pretty intensive and the second year is usually spent at intensive classes in China or Taiwan where the student's ability has the opportunity (if they take proper advantage of it and, no, some don't....) to get to a decent level. By the time they've worked through the third and fourth year work back in the UK, their standard is pretty high, although not as high as those doing, say French, who entered uni with B2 level (normal for the UK - in fact, required). Undergrads should be at a good B2 level when starting their last year and ready to move forward.

I don't have a perfect understanding of how US unis work, but I think (correct me if I'm wrong, please), that you spend less time with your major subject than we would in the UK as you have general education obligations to meet, and that you don't get a year abroad unless you specially arrange it yourself. Is that a reasonable assessment? Or does it vary a lot from place to place. Speaking of which, you mentioned you were in a programme that reached a high level, but not which one. Would you mind telling me? Send a PM if you're concerned about privacy.

Yes, it's very true about contacting academics directly and my colleague will be doing that part of things. I just thought it might be nice to find out more from the students' perspective and on here I can contact people from all over the world in one place. It does lead to problems (folk seem unable to resist telling what's wrong with your idea and presenting their personal opinion as established fact, instead of either helping with needed info or keeping quiet), but some useful things come up.=)

Thanks for your ideas too, scoff!

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msittig

I also seem to remember that at the University of Michigan, by year 4 of the Chinese language curriculum the course is conducted entirely in Chinese. I don't see how it would be otherwise. Beginners rely on translation, advanced learners develop and produce from native-like intuition.

Sorry if that doesn't address your point, so I guess my contribution is to say that I don't know of any high-level Chinese-teaching programs that still use English-language instructional materials.

As for other programs I'm not familiar with, maybe you could contact the Monterey Institute of International Studies, which is probably more professionally oriented (as opposed to an academic orientation) and might still use English-language instructional materials at a high level, being interested in efficiency of learning over developing that native-like intuition I mentioned. Also maybe the (US) State Department's language training for foreign service officers, though it might not get up to that advanced level you're looking for.

I assume you're also looking into the more established study abroad programs like Princeton in Beijing, IUP, Hopkins-Nanjing Center, etc.

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Elizabeth_rb

Yes, at my old uni, the actual lessons were conducted in Chinese - the native teacher would use Chinese all the time, but some of the materials may have some English explanations in. I found this a good combination myself, both here and in Taiwan.=) Thanks for the ideas.

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Silent
I asked about which university programmes taught to a genuine advanced level NOT 'did you think there was a target audience'

Correct you did not ask 'did you think there was a target audience' you stated:

and would find it helpful to know a little more about the possible target audience outside Greater China and the UK

Apparently my English is worse then I tend to believe, but I consider this a clear request for info on the possible target audience.

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Elizabeth_rb

No, that was simply explaining the reason for the actual *specific* question.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, this is as far as this unhelpful discussion with you goes. No more, thank you!

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Tiana

Although I think at an advanced level, teachers may not use the kind of books you have in mind as textbooks for teaching (they tend to pick out interesting pieces from any sources that they may come across), but I think they would list them in the booklist as recommended for home-study or occasional use in the classroom. Anyone who would like to improve their translation would seek out this type, and even prefer them to be written in English. So, I don't think you really need evidence of anyone having used something similar in classroom in order to write your own.

Good luck!

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