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Whether you're an absolute beginner who has never spoken a word of Mandarin or an advanced speaker who is hoping to practice Mandarin in a real world setting, you will dramatically improve your Chinese language skills at the Academy.
For four weeks, all programming, events, activities, field trips, meetings, and meals will be in Chinese. From morning assembly until lights out, you’ll be immersed in the Chinese language with a group of peers at the same competency level as you. The curriculum is organized by themes that help you navigate life in this new environment and is based on the longstanding tradition of immersion education at Middlebury College's Language Schools.
For this summer, join us at Saint Michale's College in Colchester, Vermont, for a U.S. based immersion program that accepts rising 8th–12th students from beginners to advanced Mandarin speakers. Or choose to study abroad in Beijing, China, an international program for rising 9th–12th grade students with at least one year of Mandarin experience (rising 9th graders must have a minimum of two years middle school Chinese language study).
Why Learn Mandarin Chinese?
More than 848 million people in the world—that’s close to one fifth of the world’s entire population—speak Mandarin (a part of the Chinese language family), making it the language with the largest number of native speakers. Also, it's important to note, China is rising quickly as a leading nation in the global marketplace. Many U.S. companies have large operations in China and have business relationships with Chinese corporations. Students who master Mandarin are sure to become valuable candidates for employment in many industries and companies in the U.S., China, and all over the world.
Our curriculum uses Chinese pinyin characters to teach Standard Chinese. Our teachers teach simplified and traditional characters and will introduce both forms of written text to students during the course of the Academy.
You'll spend the summer with other students gaining an appreciation for Chinese language and culture through cuisine, art, history, dress, dance, and politics. For Chinese language students, cultural exploration may include:
- Learning Tai Chi, Chinese brush painting, knotting, and origami.
- Taking Chinese dumpling cooking classes and hosting Chinese tea ceremonies.
- Studying Chinese music, religion, folk dance, and Chinese festival celebrations.
- Visiting Middlebury College's Chinese Language School where you will take a tour of campus (in Mandarin!), attend a dance or music performance, and enjoy dinner alongside Chinese Language School students.
When cultural opportunities are available nearby, we find a way to engage with the local community as well as bring that community to you.
Saint Michael's College—Colchester, Vermont
June 21, 2020—July 17, 2020
Home to our Chinese Academy for this summer, Saint Michael’s College is located just off the shores of Lake Champlain near Burlington, Vermont. Campus housing, classrooms, and facilities are all within a short walking distance of each other. At the center of campus is a beautiful green, where you'll often see Academy students playing frisbee or soccer, practicing tai chi, sitting in class outdoors on a sunny day, or just relaxing with friends during free time.
Downtown Burlington is a quick bus ride away. Named by Travel & Leisure as the top college town in America in 2014, Burlington is the perfect area for students to gain a pre-college experience all while enjoying a safe, fun, and engaging summer in Vermont.
Our Chinese programs at St. Michael’s College are open to rising 8th–12th grade students from beginners to advanced students.
Visiting Burlington, Vermont
Burlington, located on the shores of Lake Champlain, is Vermont's largest city with a population of roughly 42,000 people. Burlington is home to a number of colleges and universities, including the University of Vermont, Burlington College, Champlain College, and St. Michael's College in the neighboring town of Colchester.
Burlington is a vibrant city full of art, diverse restaurants—from Vietnamese to Middle Eastern cuisine—locally owned shops with Vermont made products, and, of course, Ben & Jerry's for a quintessential Vermont experience. Church Street in Burlington—complete with street performers, shops and live music—is a must see for visitors. Most students at the Academy will visit Church Street during off-campus excursions and some language Academies will explore Lake Champlain by boat!
Saint Michael’s College Housing & Facilities
Saint Michael’s campus features a beautiful green, a new student center with on-site coffee shop, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, athletic fields, and sports facilities. Academy students will live in dorms on the Saint Michael’s campus where they will also take classes, participate in cultural exploration activities, and enjoy free time. Students will live in Lyons Hall and Joyce Hall and will enjoy meals together in language at the Alliott Student Center.
Group excursions may take you to Burlington’s Church Street, a pedestrian open air mall with shops, restaurants and foods carts, street entertainers and musical performers, and a sprawling farmers’ market each Saturday morning. Just down the hill at Waterfront Park, you’ll find picnic areas, a boat marina, sailing center, skate park and an eight mile bike path beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Champlain.
Saint Michael's College Dates & Tuition
June 21, 2020—July 17, 2020
Tuition covers the full cost of instruction, activities, field trips, food, lodging and shuttle service to and from local airports. Tuition must be paid in full by the dates listed in order to obtain the savings as outlined here:
December 20, 2019
|December 21, 2019—
April 3, 2020
|April 4, 2020—
June 19, 2020
July 1, 2020—July 29, 2020
The Language Academy will be held in partnership with CET Academic Programs since 2013 in Beijing, China. Steeped in the richness of the past and at the center of modern day China, Beijing is an ideal location for learning Chinese while living abroad. The Chinese Academy in Beijing is open to rising 9th-12th grade students with at least one year of Mandarin language experience (rising 9th graders must have a minimum of two years middle school Chinese language study).
Accelerate your Chinese language skills against the backdrop of Beijing’s ancient history. Explore the traditions of this bustling city while visiting local historical sites and immersing yourself in as many aspects of Chinese culture as possible.
Beijing is the capital of the People's Republic of China and has been Middlebury Interactive’s study abroad location in China for five years now. Beijing’s population is roughly 20 million, and the city proper is the third largest in the world. The city boasts extensive cultural and historic sites including the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China.
Our Chinese Academy is located in Beijing at the Capital Normal University, which is known as one of Beijing's foremost teaching universities. This location serves as the backdrop to discover Beijing’s ancient history. Explore the traditions of this bustling city, while visiting local historical sites, and engaging in many aspects of Chinese culture. Beijing is safe and easily explored on foot and by using public transportation. Local and regional history, economics, art, and cuisine provide unlimited material for exploring Chinese language and culture.
One regret study abroad students often note is a lack of research and preparation before departing for a study abroad program. As the weeks draw closer to departing for Beijing, think about preparing yourself for what to expect upon arrival. A few hours researching the history and culture of Beijing will help you adjust to a new way of living abroad in China. The more you prepare now, the better adjusted you will be when you arrive. Things are going to be different in China. You may have to modify your expectations about lifestyles, habits, and customs of the Chinese. This is part of the value in studying abroad and gaining firsthand knowledge of a new culture.
Curriculum & Classes in Beijing
While the teaching methodology and belief in immersion learning is consistent across all Academies, the curriculum in Beijing is designed to help students immerse themselves in the local surroundings and quickly adapt to their new environment.
Each week at the Academy, regardless of language level, students will focus on a particular theme that directly relates to Beijing and China. Themes and daily lessons are adapted for each class level and weekly projects help students demonstrate their mastery of the content.
The weekly themes are designed to introduce students to Beijing, China and the local history and culture—all in language! This year’s weekly themes are:
- Week 1: Getting to know Beijing—Directions and Transportation
- Week 2: Living in Beijing—Eating, shopping, and making friends
- Week 3: Chinese Social Culture and Practices
- Week 4: Teenagers’ Wishes for the Future
As a part of class time each day, teachers will bring students to different sites throughout Beijing to interact with native speakers. To develop an authentic understanding of the local economy, for example, students might visit local businesses to interview the owners.
In Beijing, the city is your classroom!
Throughout the program students will also have opportunities to attend presentations and performances by local experts. Students may hear from an expert about the role of media and communication in China or take in an exciting kung-fu performance. Each event aims to enrich students’ understanding of Beijing and China.
Levels & Placement
Students will be required to take an online proficiency test prior to arriving in Beijing, in addition to a post-arrival section upon arriving on-site. Based on these results, students will be placed in one of three levels. Each level will focus on the same weekly theme, but the difficulty of content will be adapted to students’ level of proficiency.
Beijing Academy students, as part of our study abroad program in China, will live and take classes at the Capital Normal University. Located on the Third Ring Road in northwest Beijing, it is one of China’s foremost foreign language teaching universities. The main building on campus contains the student living space, a walkway to classrooms and academic spaces, as well as numerous restaurants.
Daily Schedule in Beijing
For four weeks, all programming, events, activities, field trips, meetings, and meals will be in Chinese. From morning assembly until lights out, you’ll be wrapped in the language with a group of new friends, teachers, and residential staff.
For 20 minutes after breakfast each morning, all students gather together for a casual assembly to go over daily announcements, weather predictions, and the schedule for the day. It’s fun and all “in language.” This helps you get warmed up for the day of academic, cultural, and recreational activities ahead.
During the week you will spend approximately three hours a day in language classes. You will stay with your language level group and follow a course of study specially designed so that you can survive and thrive in a full immersion environment.
The Academy’s hands on Cultural Exploration classes are 2 hours long on weekdays. These classes change every week and allow students the opportunity to actively explore authentic aspects of Chinese culture. In Beijing the classes may focus on topics such as:
- Chinese Caligraphy
- Tai Chi
- Chinese Traditional Painting
- Chinese Board Games
- Chinese Cooking
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’ll have every meal with your new friends and to stay in language. Early on there may be some humor and difficulty staying in language, but it’s good fun and teachers or RAs will be there to provide encouragement. Meals are typically eaten at a nearby restaurant. Dietary restrictions can be difficult to accommodate in China, so if you have any specific needs, please make sure to contact us.
If there is time after daily Cultural Exploration, students will join their Residentail Advisors in an afternoon activity that may include painting, watching Chinese TV, or going for milk tea at a nearby store. Staff leads all afternoon activities by supplying students with the vocabulary they need to have fun and stay in language.
You’ll have some down time every day when you’ll be able to go to the gym, write in your journal, do some laundry, take a walk, chill with friends, take a shower before dinner, or all of the above.
Evening Activities & Evening Assembly
Evening activities vary day by day. Some days students will spend extra time reviewing coursework with their teachers. Other evenings, RAs will lead Student Interest Clubs where students can dive deeper into areas of their choosing such as sports, music, yearbook, dance, videography, or theater. Students may have special performances or "Movie Nights" planned in the evening for them as well.
Evening Assembly takes place once a week and is a chance for you to see what your friends have been learning in their language classes. Think songs, skits, games, and interactive activities. It’s a great opportunity to see how your peers are progressing.
The End of the Day
After evening activities, it is your time to meet back in your dorm with your friends and residential staff. Enjoy a snack with friends. Listen to some music. Maybe share a funny story, divulge a recent triumph, or express your thoughts and concerns. Before too long, you’ll be ready to crash so you can get started the next day.
The weekends offer extended free time to relax or review, but also to explore the city of Beijing.
Field Trips & Excursions in Beijing
It would be a shame to come to China and not experience the culture and sites that define it. That’s why we organize trips for students throughout the week and on every weekend.
As part of the program, students will participate in day trips on the weekend to travel to locations outside of the city. In previous years, locations have included:
- The Great Wall of China – a must see when visiting China. The wall, constructed on the slopes of the Yan mountains, delivers a breathtaking view for those who climb it.
- Tianjin – a booming port city located within a two hour drive of Beijing. Here, students typically take part in a sightseeing cruise, explore the local culinary delicacies, and visit the Tianjin Museum to learn about the city’s rich history.
Students will also have many opportunities to explore the city of Beijing too and there is no short list of things to see and do within Beijing. Some of the places students have gone in the past include:
- The Forbidden City – the imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the Qing dynasty, still preserved, serves as a history lesson to China’s past.
- Tiananmen Square – a public square located by the The Forbidden City. It’s famous for the many significant events that it has played host to, such as the May Fourth Movement and the 1984 and 1979 protests.
- The Summer Palace – the summer home of many Chinese emperors. The huge complex—full of lakes, gardens, palaces, and hilltop views—makes for an incredible walk that is similar to the Forbidden City and testifies to the luxury of the imperial family.
- 798 Art District – where a high concentration of contemporary art galleries can be found in a stretch of since abandoned factories.
- The Hutong Districts – although most have been torn down to give way for modern skyrises, alley ways of courtyard residences dating back to the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty still exist throughout Beijing.
Beijing Housing & Facilities
Beijing Academy students as part of our study abroad program in China will live and take classes at the Capital Normal University. Located on the Third Ring Road in northwest Beijing, it is one of China’s foremost foreign language teaching universities. The main building on campus contains the student living space, a walkway to classrooms, academic spaces, and numerous restaurants.
Students will live in a dorm setting. All rooms are doubles with private en-suite bathrooms and desk lamps. The dorm also houses two restaurants, a coffee shop, and a small convenience store.
Academy students will have free use of Capital Normal University’s track, basketball, and tennis courts. Let the RA know and they can assist with reservations! There are also several gyms in the area equipped with treadmills, elliptical machines, and weight lifting equipment for a small fee.
Laundry Facilities for Students
Students will have access to pay-per-use washing machines and dryers available for student use on four floors in the dorm. One load of laundry costs about 9RMB to wash and dry, plus a one time 20RMB refundable fee to purchase a payment card. Laundry detergent may be obtained in local supermarkets.
Beijing Environmental Concerns
A large metropolitan area, Beijing is a bustling city filled with industry, transport, and business. As the country that is still adjusting to rapid growth, particularly in urban areas, China is working towards developing a green economy. Our study abroad partners, CET, have worked in Beijing for over thirty years and monitor daily pollution levels in the area, take preventative measures, and act responsively to any atmospheric changes in accordance with recommendations from the United States Embassy in Beijing. Here’s how:
- Classroom spaces are connected to dorms limiting exposure on poor air quality days.
- Outdoor events and physical activity are limited on any days with elevated pollution levels. Staff have alternate plans always at the ready in case of a change in scheduling.
- The Academy is scheduled during a time of the year when pollution is less of an issue due to the weather and climatic conditions.
- Staff monitors pollution levels on a daily basis. Information is updated hourly on the State Department’s website for your reference.
If your child has respiratory issues, please contact Jane Young, our Health and Wellness Consultant to determine if their participation is advisable: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beijing Dates & Tuition
July 1, 2020—July 29, 2020
The total cost includes tuition, room and board, instructional materials, and field trips. Travel costs are not included.
December 20, 2019
|December 21, 2019—
April 3, 2020
|April 4, 2020—
May 1, 2020
Chinese Academy Blogs and Resources
“I’m really passionate about Chinese. I wanted to push my language skills to the limit and this language program has the best name out there.”