The ACC Intensive Language & Culture Program in Beijing is a Chinese language program administered by Hamilton College and hosted by Minzu University of China (MUC) in Beijing. The program offers students the opportunity to improve their Chinese language skills and cultural fluency during fall, spring, or summer terms. The program is academically challenging and richly rewarding.
It must be emphasized that ACC is a language-intensive program with an extremely rigorous schedule. Students should expect to spend most of their time with the program attending classes, completing assignments and studying. Strict attendance policies and language pledge are applied and upheld by professors and by the field director.
Applications for the summer, summer & fall, and fall & spring terms must be received no later than February 15th. Applications for the spring and spring & summer terms must be received no later than October 15th. All applications will be considered on a rolling basis.
ACC accepts more than 50 students each semester. Courses are offered for intermediate and advanced students who wish to study Chinese in an intensive program during the summer, fall, spring or any combination of these terms. It has been the experience of ACC's faculty and most graduates that six months to one year of continuous study and residence in Beijing is the minimum needed to attain fluency in the language. For this reason, students are strongly encourages to combine two terms, if at all possible. Summer-only students will be enrolled on a space-available basis but, for the pedagogical reasons cited above, students enrolling for combined semesters will have priority.
Those students who have done exceptionally well in a strong first-year Chinese program in the U.S. may consider enrolling at ACC to continue their study of Chinese. Many other students will find it advisable to study two full years of Chinese in the U.S. prior to enrollment at ACC, so as to be able to take maximum advantage of the academic and experiential study abroad environment that ACC offers.
The curriculum, designed and supervised by experienced American college professors, focuses on studying the Chinese language through individualized instruction with a high level of participation and interaction. Students are encouraged to interact with local Chinese citizens in order to increase their understanding of Chinese culture and society and to practice the language skills learned in the classroom.
Language classes normally meet four hours daily, five days a week, including one hour of lecture, one hour of drill, a one-hour conversation session (two-on-one), and a one-hour, individual session (one-on-one). In addition, office hours are scheduled in the evening, and there are a language practicum and a language table every Friday. Students should be aware that the ACC program is very demanding. In addition to the four daily hours of class, students should expect to spend at least another four to five hours in class preparation and self-study daily.
Courses may be viewed on the ACC website to evaluate the variety of levels and classes offered. At ACC, students do not select courses themselves, but rather are assigned courses at the appropriate level based on a placement examination administered at the beginning of the term.
In addition to the formal curriculum, students take part in numerous activities which are designed to support their learning Chinese in a natural setting. Students pay no extra charge for participating in these events.
Only Chinese will be spoken, especially with other members of the group, including roommates, instructors and staff. This is the Program's most important regulation and constitutes the very backbone of its philosophy. The purpose of the Language Pledge is to help students become immersed in the language and to encourage students to not only to speak Chinese, but to think Chinese as well. When English is spoken by students, their immersion into the Chinese language is limited and the learning process is hindered.
All students who are admitted will be asked to sign a language pledge, indicating their agreement to speak Chinese to all people at all times (with the exception of dire emergencies). Failure of students to abide by the language pledge will result in disciplinary action, including possible expulsion from the program.
Each week, students participate in two to four hours of language practicum, where they are assigned projects which require them to use their Chinese outside of the classroom with local citizens. The formats include on-site visits, information-gathering, interviews, oral presentations, news reports and debates. Once a project has been completed, students report on it to their class.
Chinese Language Tables
All students in the program meet every Friday to eat lunch with several of the instructors. This is a good opportunity for teachers and students from all levels to become acquainted with each other.
Every few weeks, outside speakers will be invited to give a talk or a demonstration.
During each semester, ACC will organize field trips for all students. The field trips not only offer a change from the usual high-intensity language classes but offer students an opportunity to strengthen their knowledge of Chinese area studies and to continue their practice of Chinese outside the classroom.
Local Excursions and Events
On certain Friday afternoons or Saturdays, students may take part in excursions to nearby scenic locations such as the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and the Great Wall. Students may also attend cultural events such as Beijing opera, plays, and acrobatics.
Students meet once a week to learn calligraphy, tai-chi, cooking and to take choir classes. Toward the end of the semester, students demonstrate the skills they have learned in front of an audience of classmates, faculty and friends.
All students as well as the Field Director and the primary teachers are housed in doubles in the Foreign Students Dormitory. This complex has comfortable rooms with air-conditioning, private baths and a 24-hour hot water supply.
All students have host families with whom they may visit during the weekends. Experience from over the years has proven that this is one of the most successful features, since students can observe and participate in the daily life of Chinese families and gain some knowledge of Chinese culture, social etiquette and customs--all in a friendly and supportive environment.
Minzu University of China (MUC) is one of China's most important comprehensive universities with an advantageous geographical position, being located in an urban district of Beijing, near the National Library of China. The university has a beautiful, garden-like campus, something rarely seen in northern China. The university is well equipped with modern educational facilities. It has a comprehensive set of university disciplines and its ethnic characteristics are highly distinctive. At present, MUC has 23 colleges and 5 departments, 55 bachelor degree programs, 64 master degree programs and 25 doctor degree programs.