WSU Adds First-Year Chinese to Course Offerings

OGDEN, Utah – For the first time in more than 20 years, Weber State University will offer first-year Mandarin Chinese language courses through the Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures.

WSU initially planned on offering one section, but the class filled quickly so another section has been added. A course in Chinese calligraphy also has been included for this fall.

Tom Mathews, chair of WSU's Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures, said the courses are designed to serve a growing need for Chinese speakers in Utah and in the United States. "Economically and politically, people who have some knowledge of Chinese are going to do much better than people who don't," Mathews said. "Chinese seems to be gaining momentum in the local school districts, so I think this will complement that."

Utah already has the nation's highest percentage of public education students studying Mandarin, and this fall nine elementary schools along the Wasatch Front will implement dual-immersion Mandarin language programs. According to the Utah Office of Education, these classes will cover the core curriculum with 50 percent of instruction time in Mandarin and 50 percent in English.

Two adjunct instructors, Darin Long and Melissa Pittman, will teach the new courses at WSU, and both are accomplished Chinese teachers with international experience. Long has studied at a Chinese university in Nanjing, and Pittman is a native Chinese speaker from Taiwan.

The courses add to the university's ties to the world's most-spoken language. The university offers a minor in Asian studies, the Department of History hosts a Chinese film festival, and several academic disciplines have exchange opportunities with China.

According to Mathews, the department hopes to expand Chinese offerings in the future by making available an upper-division course in the spring, as well as second-year courses starting in the fall of 2010. 

For more information, visit or call 801-626-6183.

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Travis Clemens, assistant director of Media Relations
801-626-7948 •
Tom Mathews, Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures chair
801-626-6345 •