FileHarvard Chinese Language Program

The teaching of Chinese as a foreign language at Harvard University began in 1879.  The application of modern linguistic theory and methods to Chinese language education began with Professor Yuen Ren Chao at Harvard University in 1942.  Since then, Harvard's Chinese language pedagogy initiated a new age of modernization which established two foundational traditions. They require that teaching materials employ 'authentic spoken Chinese' and that teaching pedagogy engages in a direct drilling method.  For more than half a century, these Harvard traditions have exhibited a powerful resilience, as professor Timothy Light remarked in 1982, "let us not forget that Y.R. Chao was the pioneer in what is now the accepted mode of teaching Chinese."

Today, the teaching and learning of Chinese is entering a new era of economic and cultural globalization, and Chinese language is increasingly prevalent in the international academic discourse. To this end, the Chinese Language Program at Harvard has composed Chinese language curricula from first- through fifth-year courses based on the traditional principle of 'authentic spoken Chinese', and the newly developed methodology of teaching 'elegant written Chinese'. The Chinese language curriculum and textbooks developed are not only used by students at Harvard, but also by those who study overseas at the Harvard-Beijing Academy in Beijing. We invite you to learn more about our program as we look forward to further breakthroughs in language instruction and acquisition.