Name: Elise Leahy
This year, Southern Utah University’s college of Humanities and Social Sciences added three new languages to its catalogue: Latin, Arabic and Mandarin. The college is particularly excited about the addition of an Asian language, which heretofore, has never been offered at SUU.
A multi-year agreement established in 2010 between Southern Utah University and Hunan Normal University (HNU) in Hunan, China will bring one highly-credentialed instructor to SUU each year to educate students in Mandarin language and culture. Visiting professors will teach two classes each semester, continuing through spring of 2016.
This year, SUU welcomes Manqiong Xiao, chair of the English department at Hunan Normal University. Xiao has taught English and foreign studies at HNU for several years and holds a Master’s degree in American and English literature.
Facilitating the exchange for Xiao, Assistant Professor Kevin Stein of SUU’s Communication department will teach a four-week course at Hunan Normal University next May. Though others have given guest lectures, Dr. Stein will be the first SUU faculty member to teach at HNU.
In addition to faculty exchanges, students are also being swapped between the universities. This fall, SUU hosted two students from Hunan Normal University and this coming semester, we will send one of our own to study in Hunan.
Faculty in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences believe that the exchange agreement is timely and very well aligned with what is happening on the world stage.
James McDonald, dean of the college, is thrilled about the new opportunity and the great advantages it will provide to students as they enter the working world, where the Asian market plays such a dominant role. “China is a big factor in today’s global economy and if our students are going to compete, we need to understand the language,” McDonald said.
Professor Xiao reports that the integration of cultures has already begun. Many of her students chose to take the course in the hopes of expanding their professional pursuits to the Asian market. One such student with business aspirations has already forged some promising relationships overseas. Another is hopeful that learning Chinese will help his career pursuits in international law.
Mandarin is spoken in northern and southwestern China and when taken as one language, including its various sub-dialects, the language has more native speakers than any other in the world. “The reading and writing of Mandarin is very hard,” Professor Xiao said. “The students have been very diligent.”
Two classes will be available each semester, one elementary course and the other at an intermediate level. The college is working toward offering sixteen credit hours and has submitted curriculum for two upper-level Mandarin courses.
Support for the exchange has been provided by SUU’s Global Engagement Center, Department of Foreign Languages and Philosophy, University College and the Provost’s Office.
For more information on language opportunities at SUU, please contact Elise Leahy, Foreign Languages and Philosophy department chair, at 435-865-8287.
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