Looking for a rigorous, fully immersive language learning study abroad experience that pushes you to explore beyond the classroom? You’ve found it. The CIEE Intensive Chinese Studies program is designed to enable intermediate and advanced language students to increase their Mandarin proficiency while exploring Beijing’s role in the greater Chinese society.
Through intensive Mandarin language courses, area studies electives, weekly interactions with Chinese peer tutors, a homestay option, and group excursions you won’t simply study Chinese—you’ll live it.
Study abroad in Beijing and you will:
Choose from the largest selection of Chinese language electives in China—ideal for advanced and heritage language learners—at the prestigious Peking University
Improve your Mandarin with up to 20 hours of in-class language instruction per week and one-on-one tutorials with Peking University peer tutors
Learn from CIEE staff trained in teaching Chinese as a second language and Chinese culture
Visit the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and Temple of Heaven, and areas away from Beijing such as Xi’an or Hangzhou
Live with a Chinese host family or in a dormitory with other international students
Participate in smaller, topic-oriented cultural activities and lectures that provide meaning to what you learn in the classroom and give you additional tools to understand your experience of living in another culture
The CIEE Difference
At the prestigious Peking University, you have access to an exceptional range of courses and electives, allowing you to build an academic program suited to your interests and abilities. Enroll in courses that advance your grammar, character composition, and listening comprehension, or build language skills needed to conduct business activities, even study Chinese language through film.
In addition to this course work, a Language and Culture Practicum facilitated by the CIEE resident staff supplements your language learning, integrating many of the activities in the co-curricular program through task-based exercises and assignments using spoken and written Chinese.
Excursions and Cultural Activities
Guided field trips are organized to cultural destinations or events in and around Beijing, which might include historic sites such as Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, and the Forbidden City. Activities may also include more contemporary events, such as modern plays, rock music performances, modern art exhibitions, day hikes near Beijing, and may also include interactive visits to orphanages or institutes for autistic children. Additional site visits supplement the area studies electives. Through experiential learning, students connect empirical experiences to content they learn in their classes, learning more about contemporary Chinese society and culture from the local people they meet. Two extended, weekend excursions to regions outside the city are also offered each semester.
Students living in the dormitories may take part in an optional, short-term homestay experience for three weeks. This allows CIEE study abroad students to experience both the student and Chinese family living environment while in Beijing. Each host family provides a private room, Internet access, and laundry facilities.
Overall GPA 2.75
135 hours of college-level Mandarin Chinese or equivalent*.
1 college-level Chinese area studies course recommended.
Peking University does not accept students who are citizens of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Taiwan ROC, Hong Kong SAR, or Macau. This includes those who are permanent U.S. residents. Students of Chinese ancestry who hold U.S. and other foreign passports are welcome.
*Depending upon their language background, students with more than five years of college-level Mandarin Chinese or its equivalent and students with near native fluency may not be appropriate for this program. These students should consider applying to the CIEE Advanced Chinese Studies program instead. The Advanced Chinese Studies program has different requirements, earlier application deadlines, and a longer academic calendar. Intensive Chinese Language students may not transfer to this program once on site. There are also different fees and information associated with this program. Please see the Beijing Advanced Chinese Studies program.
Don’t Meet the Eligibility Requirements?
Students who are interested in studying intensive Chinese language in Beijing but do not meet this program’s Chinese language study requirements may consider the intensive Chinese Language + Society program offered at the CIEE Study Center in Beijing at Minzu University. This intensive language program is appropriate for students with little or no background in Chinese language, and provides appropriate support and programming tailored for an elementary or beginner level Chinese student.
Total recommended credit for the semester is 16 semester/24 quarter hours and 31 semester/46.5 quarter hours for the academic year. Students who receive written approval from their home institution during the course registration process may take up to 19 semester/28.5 quarter hours.
Contact hours and credits for the required Peking University language courses and Chinese language electives are noted in the course descriptions. CIEE area studies electives, taught in English, have 45 contact hours and recommended credit is 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours. Due to national holidays the fall semester has one week less instruction than the spring semester for all required Chinese language courses and Chinese language electives. This difference is indicated by the variable contact hours listed for each course.
Course Load Examples for Semester Students:
Readings in Chinese—Intermediate I: 6 credits
Spoken Chinese—Intermediate I: 6 credits
Elementary Chinese Listening Comprehension: 3 credits
Chinese Language and Culture Practicum: 1 credit
Total: 16 credits
Readings in Chinese—Advanced I: 6 credits
Spoken Chinese—Advanced II: 4.5 credits
CIEE Elective Course in English or Intermediate and Advanced Chinese Language Elective: 3 credits
Intermediate and Advanced Chinese Language Elective: 1.5 credits
Chinese Language and Culture Practicum: 1 credit
Total: 16 credits
Readings in Chinese—Advanced High I: 4.5 credits
Spoken Chinese—Advanced High II: 4.5 credits
CIEE Elective Course in English or Advanced High Chinese Language Elective: 3 credits
Advanced High Chinese Language Elective: 3 credits
Chinese Language and Culture Practicum: 1 credit
Total: 16 credits
A full course load ranges from four to five courses for the semester and seven to nine courses for the academic year. All students take Readings in Chinese, Spoken Chinese, the Language and Culture Practicum, and one or two other Chinese language courses, depending on the level of the individual student’s Readings in Chinese placement, or an English language elective. Academic Year participants need not repeat the Language and Culture Practicum in the spring semester.
Study abroad students placed in Readings in Chinese—Elementary II and Intermediate I may also take Elementary Chinese Listening Comprehension. Students placed in Intermediate II to Advanced II may also take Chinese Pronunciation Correction or Intermediate Chinese Listening Comprehension and one other Chinese language elective at the appropriate level. Students placed in Advanced High I or above may take two Chinese language electives at the appropriate level. Students who have met the eligibility requirements of the program but demonstrate language skills below that of a typical student who has completed 135 hours of college-level Chinese may be placed in Elementary I. There are no Chinese language electives for this level. All students may also take one CIEE elective taught in English in place of a Chinese elective as part of the recommended full load, or in addition to a full load with permission of the Resident Director and home institution advisor.
Students are placed in the appropriate language level based on a language placement exam taken during orientation. The School of Chinese as a Second Language strictly matches test scores to course levels for initial placements. Since permission from the school is required to change levels, with firm limitations on the number of times a student may do so, students are advised to review and refresh their knowledge of Chinese characters prior to taking the placement exam.
As the capital of the world’s most populous nation, Beijing is at the center of much that happens in China. It is a city of more than 22 million people adapting as China emerges as a global player. Beijing reflects China’s long and evolving history and home to some of the nation’s most well-known and culturally important sites such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace. In addition to being the political and cultural center of China, Beijing is known as the birthplace of Chinese cinema and modern art. Beijing also has China’s largest concentration of top research institutions.
Where You’ll Study
Founded in 1898, Peking University (PKU) was and still remains one of China’s most prestigious universities. Its long traditions of scholarly excellence and political activism have produced many figures that have played instrumental roles in China’s post-Imperial history. The university focuses on advanced research in the natural and social sciences and its campus, which was previously an imperial garden during the Qing Dynasty, is home to the university’s 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The PKU campus has modern classrooms, recreational facilities and numerous cafeterias, as well as convenient access to Beijing’s mass transit system, all within short walking distance of each other.
Housing & Meals
Housing is included in the study abroad program fee. Students live in either the PKU foreign student complex Zhongguanyuan Global Village dormitory or with a host family. Students may not live in accommodations that are not arranged by CIEE. Students on the semester program living in the dormitories have the opportunity to take part in a three-week homestay experience.
Living conditions in Zhongguanyuan Global Village are comfortable and inviting, and provide standard amenities such as beds, desks, armoires, private bathrooms, and Internet access. Shared kitchens are available, but location varies by building. Students live in suite-style units and each student has his or her own private bedroom. Each unit shares a common living space and bathroom and, depending on the layout, students will live with one to two other roommates. Roommates are either CIEE study abroad students or other international students.
Students also have the unique opportunity to have a homestay experience with a local Chinese family. Most host families have a member who works at PKU or is retired from PKU. Chinese host families are located 15–20 minutes from campus by public transportation. Students have their own room and share the living room, kitchen, and bathroom with the family. Students are invited to family meals twice per week, and should budget for all other meals. Since Chinese family members speak Chinese only, this option is highly recommended for students who want to live in an entirely Chinese language environment and who are motivated to make rapid progress in Chinese language.
Housing for academic year students between the fall and spring semesters is arranged and included in the program fee. This is to encourage students to stay in China during the break and to continue improving their Chinese language abilities.
Meals are not included in the program fee and are the responsibility of the student. Students usually eat at the student cafeterias or at the wide range of inexpensive restaurants in and around campus.
The CIEE Study Center at Peking University was founded in 1980, soon after the normalization of U.S.-China relations. The Intensive Chinese Language program offers students an opportunity to improve their fluency in spoken and written Mandarin Chinese through intensive language training. Students may also elect to take one course in English to supplement their understanding of China. Electives in English are offered in the areas of business, politics, religion, and culture.
Peer Language Tutor Program
The CIEE Peer Language Tutor program is a unique feature of the study abroad program and ensures that students’ linguistic and cultural fluency progresses throughout their stay. CIEE students are paired with PKU students for weekly one-on-one Chinese language tutorials for a total of three hours per week, with more hours available upon request. These tutorials provide students extra conversation practice in Mandarin and guidance with homework assignments, while giving them an opportunity to befriend and be a part of the lives of their Chinese peers. Past students have stated that their peer tutors were one of the best and most unique aspects of the CIEE program.
Students attend language classes from Monday through Friday for a total of 12-20 hours a week in addition to electives for a total of 18-20 hours of class per week. Language classes meet in two-hour blocks between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Individual schedules vary depending on course levels. The required language courses are divided into nine levels according to the sequential textbook series, as described in the course section. The PKU School of Chinese as a Second Language groups these nine levels into Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced, with three levels each and a total of 26 sections. The section number does not correspond directly with Chinese language proficiency level and is designed to allow students with similar language proficiency to be grouped together in the same class. Therefore, course syllabi and content may vary between sections within each level.
Readings in Chinese meets 10 hours a week for Elementary I, eight hours a week for Elementary II through Advanced II levels, and six hours a week for Advanced High and Superior levels. Spoken Chinese meets 10 hours a week for Elementary I, eight hours a week for Elementary II and Intermediate I, and six hours a week for Intermediate II and higher levels. Electives meet two or four hours a week. Typical classroom size for required language courses varies from 10 to 20 students. Elective classes typically have 20 to 40 students, depending on the topic.
The CIEE semester study abroad program ends in accordance with the typical U.S. academic calendar and early exams are arranged for CIEE students. However, the language classes at PKU continue for one month past the end date of the CIEE program. Depending on the date of the Lunar New Year, there is approximately a two-month break between the end of the fall semester and the start of the spring semester, during which academic year students may travel around China and other parts of Asia. Other than these occasions and Chinese national holidays, students should limit travel to nearby destinations on weekends and reserve more extensive travel until after the program has ended.
Nature of Classes
Participants take Mandarin classes with CIEE and other international students and are not enrolled alongside Chinese students. CIEE electives are with CIEE study abroad students only.
Grades for language courses are determined by two monthly exams (80%), homework and quizzes (10%), and attendance and participation (10%). Students missing more than 25% of any language course will not receive a grade for that course. PKU assigns a numeric grade out of 100 and CIEE assigns one of the following equivalent letter grades: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, D, and F.
CIEE Community Language Commitment
On this program, students are asked to take part in the CIEE Community Language Commitment. During orientation all students sign an agreement specifying in what contexts Chinese is required. This fosters a program environment and learning community that encourages regular use of the Chinese language for daily communication, thereby improving proficiency in the language.
CIEE Chinese Language Advisory Committee
The CIEE Chinese Language Advisory Committee (CCLAC) is comprised of specialists in the field of teaching Chinese as a second language and serves to promote the highest standards of education at the CIEE Study Centers in Greater China. Specifically, the committee advises CIEE administrators and language instructors on curriculum issues such as learning goals and objectives, instructional innovations, assessment of proficiency gains, program evaluation, and course articulation.
Language of Instruction
All Chinese language courses are taught by faculty from the Peking University School of Chinese as a Second Language. The area studies electives are taught by PKU faculty, other local Chinese scholars, and/or international scholars residing in Beijing.