hi from china

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by elds, Nov 1, 2010.

  1. elds

    elds Member

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    Hi there! I'm an expat from Harvard, MA living in Shanghai China. I am in the 10th grade and attend the shanghai community international school. I speak Spanish fluently, and am struggling along with mandarin.:wink: i was wondering if anyone could tell me... well anything! about the mandarin major at the naval academy. It's been a dream of mine to attend, and for me at least the chinese major would be a perfect fit. But i was hoping someone mite tell me more about it, is it to big a work load? Is there a focus on the written system? or is it mainly speaking? and would it be possible to major in Mandarin and minor in Spanish? I have looked at the languages department page on the USNA website but found its description lacking, i would love to hear from a first hand experience of this major.
    thanks,
    elds
     
  2. Pachrian

    Pachrian Parent

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    Hi Elds,

    I honestly don't know much about Chinese as a major. My son has completed his minor in Chinese during his Plebe year and is continuing his studies because he loves it. He said the professor is excellent and very interesting, and yes, there is a LOT of writing in Chinese.
     
  3. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    My daughter is currently doing a semester abroad in Beijing. As a Major she Chose Chinese since she had studied it in High School and had an aptitude for language. A background in Mandarin has to be a plus. She was also very fluent in Spanish but considered a second language minor as very difficult with the course load required even with validations. Second Minor for any tract is really hard. There isn't enough time in the day. She told us that the Chinese Language teachers at the Naval Academy are great and very supportive. Character recognition and writing seems to be a problem in China but they are all working through it. The teachers there told her that their pronunciation and speaking were very good but reading Chinese Characters was a problem. After two months, however, she told us this morning that she can read almost all signs in the train and bus stations. Her mother appreciates that she can get to the pearl market on her own.:yllol:
     
  4. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    At USNA, there is a Chinese major. During Plebe Summer, you declare your interest and USNA assesses your aptitude. I don't believe that any Chinese is a pre-requisite, but they do some sort of testing to see whether you are likely to be able to do well in the language.

    If you are accepted for the major, your entire course load is slightly altered so that you can start taking Chinese first semester plebe year. The reason is that DLI (Defense Language Institute) believes that even with four years of intensive study, non-natives still will only reach Level 1 (of 3) of proficiency. This is the extent of what USNA told the BGOs.

    The same applies for Arabic, BTW.
     
  5. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    According to the DLI and the Naval Academy review they better be at ay least IRL 2 for study abroad and better be IRL 2+ or 3 when they come back or the USNA has wasted our money. Prior Chinese is not a pre-requisite for the major but testing will identify your aptitude. I may be wrong but I don't think IRL 1 would be acceptable.
     
  6. Pachrian

    Pachrian Parent

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    During PPW my husband, who is Chinese, had a chance to talk to the/a Chinese teacher, the same person who has been our son's teacher at USNA. During their conversation he mentioned that he would strongly recommend against choosing Chinese as a major unless a student has a background either from HS or from home. Learning this difficult language for only 4 years is not enough to make you stand out...there are a lot of bilingual students who will be better than you without having majored in the language. And they have the advantage of another major on top of their language skills.
     
  7. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    As I stated she had a strong background in Chinese in High School. Her former Chinese instructor is now a director of a school in Shanghai and recommended her strongly for USNA based on her language ability. Any language major is tough even if the engineers say it isn't. You stated there are a lot of bilingual students at the Academy. Chinese isn't one of those many bilingual categories. How many current firsties are bilingual in Chinese? Then again, how many fleet officers are bilingual in Chinese? Tell him to pursue the Chinese major if he really wants it. They get some big bucks bonus for that language major.:thumb: You talked to his teacher at PPW before he had even taken a class? Can't figure that one out. Sorry reread the posting and finally figured out the time frame. My apologies for stupidity.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  8. Pachrian

    Pachrian Parent

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    AF, I hope you didn't misunderstand me, my comments were not directed towards you and your daughter. I knew she had prior language skills, and as a language major myself I definitely applaud her. What I was trying to convey was simply that a total of 4 years of Chinese without prior knowledge doesn't get you all that far, as stated by the teacher in his casual conversation with my husband. Both my husband and I happen to agree with his assessment though. Our son, btw, never considered majoring in languages, but the choice was completely his.

    On a side note, you might be surprised how many Mids do speak Chinese/Mandarin, and they are not all Asian.
     
  9. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Never thought of your comments as directed toward my daughter or myself. Just giving my opinion of the situation as I know it. Daughter has not found many Mids outside the language program speaking or understanding any Mandarin. Admittedly the Company and Language Program cloister situation kind of keeps them segregated.:biggrin: I understand that someone might be surprised at a non Asian speaking/understanding an Asian language. I can't tell you how many times I overheard conversations in Thai that I was not supposed to hear.:shake: If the Instructor thinks that four years studying Chinese at USNA doesn't get you all that far what good is it as a Major and how much prior familiarization or study do you have to have before your four years becomes relevant? Is it because of the many dialects? That teacher casually told you that his/her job was a waste of time and you agree. Why do they have it as a Major and why waste the money? Might as well get rid of all non English language programs at all universities. Middlebury College and the Defense Language Institute will be very upset.:confused: Another Major on top of Language skills? I didn't know there was a Chinese Minor.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  10. elds

    elds Member

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    thanks for the info! i agree with pachrian that four years is not enough time for a non native speaker to master chinese. but some of my korean or japanese friends learned it in two years and tested out of any programs my school offeres. but do you think I would be able to gain any sort of level of fluency after the four years? because i would probably be able to validate out of mandarin one and two (if its even set up that way). Are there higher level courses? or is it designed with the expectation that it does not need to teach students to more than an intermediate level? I realize that mandarin is difficult for westerners to grasp, but i know many who can speak fluently as well. i think (i hope) its just a matter of commitment to learning the language.
     
  11. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Master = No. Conversant with the language and culture = Yes. No one "Masters" a Language in four years. Commitment is everything especially if you have a background familiarization with the subject. Higher levels are semester in Beiging where you even learn to read all the street signs and the train stops.:biggrin:
     
  12. Pachrian

    Pachrian Parent

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    Language majors, particularly Chinese and Arabic, are NOT a waste of money and resources, I never said that and neither did the teacher. They are valuable and the only point the teacher was trying to make is a very valid one: Chinese is a difficult language to learn (for me it's especially reading and writing) and if a student has no prior knowledge he would not recommend it as a major.

    Just think about it: your daughter is in Beijing right now and despite her strong background from HS and an aptitude for languages she still learns new things every day. These majors are perfect for people like your daughter or the OP, who have know at least the basics. By the time they graduate their language skills are at a level where they are very useful and sought after.

    And yes, you can minor in Chinese, which might be a great option for somebody with interest in the language but either no background or a strong interest in different major.

    Elds, keep up studying the language no matter where you go to college :smile:.
     
  13. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Yes. I agree, very difficult for those without a language aptitude or prior knowledge.New things every day:biggrin:. She is learning how to shop in the Pearl Market and have designer clothes made at the high end dress shops:eek:. Will need another suitcase for the return trip. Any language class or immersion in another culture is only a positive for anyone. Didn't know Chinese could be a minor and I stand corrected. That would seem very difficult but more power to anyone choosing that route. New every day, you bet. She has written so many papers on Mao she thought it might be advisable to go see him so she went the other day. She thought it was amazing at the tomb. She has an Art background so the writing is a little easier but the reading was tough at first. Thank heaven for ooVoo so we can talk even with the twelve hour difference.
     
  14. lotsofbooks

    lotsofbooks Member

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    Not sure if this is helpful for this thread, but my d. got involved with Russian at her Academy. (this was a kid who struggled so much with Spanish in HS she decided to change to Latin instead to finish her foreign language requirements) I didn't know how she could manage a "hard" language after watching her in Spanish.

    She really loved the Russian language (even said the Latin helped her) and formed study groups with her friends. She worked really hard -- She wanted to do the semester abroad---you had to pretty much be the highest scoring students of Russian to have a chance to participate. The challenge was motivating--- and good for her---she enjoyed her semester studying in Kiev and living with a family. The four of them took outings together on the weekends. She said your GPA was frozen for that semester. Only the majors and minors got to have the chance. (She was a Foreign Area studies Major-- and she did get two minors---one in Russian and the other in Philosophy) She said the Philosophy dept was excellent, her favorite teacher retired, otherwise she was planning a major in Philosophy.

    But---she also was awarded another scholarship to go and study again right after graduation- she returned to the same family (only a month) but she ended up with 90 days off instead of 60 because of the studying. And she also just got accepted to another Russian program through the military---and you're supposed to have weekly language training and then study in Russian for 6 weeks (instead of working at your regular job) So it sure sounds like they have programs in place to maintain and improve your language even once you're done with college. HTH
     
  15. m133486

    m133486 New Member

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    USNA Chinese Major

    Hi elds, great to hear you're thinking about a service academy.

    I'd like to tell you first hand since I'm currently pursuing a IR/Econ/Chinese triple major.

    I have no prior experience with Chinese. However, I was selected for the semester abroad as a sophomore simply because of the effort/aptitude I have for the language. This is tangential to the fact that although having prior experience with the language is definitely not a bad thing, it can in fact hurt you. My competitors involved people that had HS/foreign living experience with Chinese, but the teachers constantly rag on them for their bad habits and inaccuracies. I have surpassed many of them in my endeavors, as well as juniors and seniors above me, and it sounds like you have a good talent for languages, too. My position is, as long as you work hard, you'll be fluent before you leave anyway, so the starting point is practically irrelevant. I plan to be spending a grand total of almost a year in China including my summer opportunities and semester abroad. USNA is very supportive of language learning.

    That said, I would kill to be doing what you're doing right now. That's pretty amazing.

    As far as the actual major, I'm kind of working my matrix to not take any specific classes around the major and still achieve the major (through overlaps in Econ/IR), but I would still highly recommend it. As far as the actual classes that I have experienced, the teachers are world class. You, especially, will have a great experience with it;the only bumpy part is the plebe teachers that aren't actually language teachers and aren't totally fluent in English yet.. haha.

    Overall, there's a huge focus on speaking, and the teachers doing it have been at it for their entire career. We of course learn writing and reading is a duh but we usually give presentations to the class at least once a week, consisting of preplanned "speeches" for a minute in as fluent of chinese as possible. They make sure you learn CORRECT Chinese.

    My one criticism: if you're serious about languages more than anything else, in retrospect I would personally think about West Point or Air Force. We get 3 hours of language classes a week, they get 5. It really is a huge difference. I hate to sell out my school, but yea. Good luck on what you decide!
     

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