My first semester on the Chinese Studies programme

by | Jan 23, 2023 | Languages and Cultures, Undergraduate | 0 comments

Written by Anna Cray, a 1st year French and Chinese Studies student.

Hi! I’m Anna and I’m in my first year at the University of Manchester where I study French and Chinese. I chose to study French and Chinese because I love languages; I studied French at A-level but I had only had a few lessons outside of school in Chinese before I came to university. The University of Manchester was my first choice as I found that they offered the widest range of Chinese culture modules and all the Chinese language tutors are native speakers.

As I study a Joint Honours degree, there are three compulsory Chinese modules that I am studying in my first year. The first module is Introduction to Chinese Studies where we cover everything from Chinese history to culture, economics and politics. The lecturers give us great insight into different aspects of life in China, which will guide us throughout the rest of our degree when we study other modules. This module is my favourite as I had never learnt anything about Chinese culture in a classroom before coming to university, and the lecturers are always willing to answer our questions, no matter how small.

In addition to the culture module, there are two compulsory Chinese language modules (one per semester) in which we study Mandarin. Each week we have seven hours of Chinese language which is split between three or four different teachers. With each teacher you tackle a different aspect of the language, such as speaking and listening with one and reading with another. The classes are small, with about ten students per class, and because of this it made the jump from school to university very easy. The language tutors are super friendly and get to know you personally, something I was worried I would not have the opportunity to experience. Instead, the tutors are very involved in your learning, guiding you through the language and grammar with immense patience. If I ever feel like I don’t understand something that we’ve done in class, I can email them or go to see them during their office hours.

Not only are our language tutors very helpful, but as first years we also have Peer Mentors. I have Peer Mentors for both the Chinese half of my degree and the French half of my degree. If we ever have any questions, we can talk to them, which can seem less intimidating as they’re in their second year and so aren’t much older. The Chinese Peer Mentors are also very involved in organising fun activities for us as first years, such as a movie night or trip to China town during the Lunar New Year to see the parades and the stalls.

I love studying at the University of Manchester because I feel so supported by the staff and by other students. I am looking forward to my second year at university where I hope to learn some Classical Chinese and study China’s borderlands and their interactions with wider Chinese society.