Course Meeting Times

Lectures:  4 sessions / week, 1 hour / session


21G.102 Chinese II (Regular)

Course Description and Learning Objectives

This subject follows 21G.102 (Chinese II) in MIT’s curriculum in modern standard Chinese (Mandarin). Together with 21G.104, taught in the spring, Chinese III forms the intermediate level of what constitutes a four-term foundation in Mandarin. The foundation (Chinese I through IV) covers the core grammar of the language; it develops a sensitivity to linguistically appropriate behavior; it introduces extensive vocabulary and usage as a basis for conversational development; and it provides a step-by-step guide to the principles and practice of reading and writing Chinese short narratives. Upon completion of Chinese III and IV, students should be able to speak Chinese with fluency on everyday topics, reach a literacy level of 700 characters (approximately 2000 common words written in both traditional and simplified characters), read materials written in simple standard written Chinese, and produce both orally and in writing short compositions on everyday topics. Throughout the course we will address issues of how cultural differences inform and are informed by different linguistic contexts and practices.


  1.  Cornelius C. Kubler, Intermediate Spoken Chinese. Tuttle Publishing, 2018. ISBN: 9780804850490
  2.  Cornelius C. Kubler and Yang Wang, Intermediate Mandarin Chinese Speaking and Listening Practice Book. Tuttle Publishing, 2018. ISBN: 9780804850506
  3.  Cornelius C. Kubler, Intermediate Written Chinese. Tuttle Publishing, 2016. ISBN: 9780804840200
  4.  Cornelius C. Kubler and Jerling Guo Kubler, Intermediate Written Chinese Practice Essentials. Tuttle Publishing, 2018. ISBN: 9780804850520

All the audio and videos of the materials are available on Tuttle Publishing. Please scroll down to “Intermediate Spoken Chinese” to download.


The grade for this course will be based on the following table:

Daily classroom performance (including performance of the basic conversation, participation in class activities, quizzes, and / or homework 50%
Review tests (10% of each; four tests in total) 40%
Essay 10%

Your grades in the course are largely determined by classroom performance. The reasons for this emphasis are many, but the main reason is that we are convinced that if you follow the course with consistency and persistence, you will develop significant demonstrable skills in Chinese by the end of the semester. Your daily performance on the activities assigned on the weekly schedule will be graded on the following four-point scale unless indicated otherwise:

4 Performance that promises interaction with a native with no difficulty, discomfort, or misunderstanding; no English hesitation noises in speaking and no “foreignisms” in the written work.
3.5 Performance comprehensible to native speakers, but some non-patterned errors that would hinder smooth interaction with them.
3 Performance comprehensible to a native, but evident weakness or patterned errors.
2.5 Communication requires much help from interlocutor.
2 Performance puts burden on interlocutor. To facilitate communication, a Chinese-speaking native would probably avoid using Chinese with you.
1.5 Barely prepared, little competency evident.
1 Evidently unprepared; unable to perform.
0 Absent.

Most class sessions will be graded on a scale of eight possible points — four for “dialog performance” and the other four for overall practice based on the drills, communicative exercises, quizzes, and/or written assignments. Grades will be kept for every assigned performance. You will need a minimum of 60% to pass the course. Percentage Grade Scale:

A = 100-93.4 A- = 93.3-90 B+ = 89.9-86.7
B = 86.6-83.4 B- = 83.3-80 C+ = 79.9-76.7
C = 76.6-73.4 C- = 73.3-70 D+ = 69.9-66.7
D = 66.6-63.4 D- = 63.3-60 F = below 60  

Your grade record report is available upon request. If you have a question about a grade, ask your instructor. There is no curve in this course. You are competing against the communicative demands of the language, not against each other. Each person will have to perform to receive credit; but there is nothing in the grading system to discourage collaborative efforts to achieve the highest level of performance possible.

If you must miss class, please let us know well in advance if possible. You will be allowed to make up no more than TWO missed classes in this course unless you provide a doctor’s note or a note from your academic advisor to the instructor in advance. The make-ups will be conducted by the instructors by appointment and will cover the work missed. Make-ups are to be arranged within two days of your return to class; missed classes which are not made up within the above time frame or which exceed two in number will be entered as zeroes in your grade record. It is vital that you maintain communication with us if you miss class. You are expected to be in class each hour ready to perform; we do not have the resources to set up a separate program for those who cannot make it to class each hour each day.

Preparation for Classes and Policies

All classes are conducted in Chinese only. English will not be used except when asked for with a Chinese request. Therefore, you must come to class well-prepared in the assigned materials. The secret to success in learning Chinese is to work with the AUDIO FILES and the DVD as actively as possible. Whenever possible, your preparation should emphasize the audio files. Below are important comments for you:

  1. Be sure to come to every class; frequent cutting equals certain disaster! We cannot emphasize enough the importance of regular class attendance and of getting out of each class the maximum possible. You should always participate actively, paying close attention to everything you hear and see and anticipating the responses to questions even when you’re not called upon.
  2. We can’t overstress the importance of thorough preparation before each class. You should plan on spending two hours in preparation for each hour of class. This includes studying the explanations and notes in the textbook and, especially, listening to and repeating after the audio recordings. Work with the recordings as actively as possible and always be thinking of the meaning of what you are hearing and saying. If you still have time, look at the videos of the basic conversations in the DVD to get a good understanding of where and how the conversations take place.
  3. Memory work will be a very important part of the course. Once we begin Session 2, you should memorize the assigned conversation that constitutes the core of each lesson by working intensively with the audio files; do not rely on reading the romanization in your textbook. Memorize each basic conversation thoroughly, so you can perform it in class accurately and fluently. It is essential to internalize the new words, grammar patterns, and cultural behavior so they will be readily available to you for your own use when needed. Memorization will greatly aid your fluency and naturalness of speaking. Students sometimes question the necessity of repetition, drill, and memorization. Certainly, these are only the first steps leading to our ultimate goal of communicative competence; however, they are very important steps, since they firmly establish in your brain the sounds and structures of the language for you to draw on later in your own speech. We hope that you understand the importance of these activities and ask that you work hard at them.
  4. Written homework will be due in class. Late homework will be accepted with a penalty (10% off per day) and will not be accepted two days late, except in cases of serious medical or family emergency. “Extra work” to make up for missed homework later on will not be accepted for this class.
  5. No make-up quiz or review test. However, the lowest THREE grades of your daily performance will be dropped toward your semester grade.
  6. To give you as much practice as possible in using Chinese, starting with the second class and continuing through the end of the course, Chinese only is to be used during the first 45 minutes of every class. If you have questions that can be asked or answered only in English, please: (1) ask during the last 5 minutes of class; (2) ask the instructor right after class is over; (3) make an appointment to meet with the instructor individually; or (4) communicate with the instructor via e-mail. In our classes we want to create as “Chinese” an atmosphere as possible and get you used to thinking only in Chinese; if we were to revert to English every few minutes, this would be hard to accomplish.
  7. To become a successful learner of Chinese, your goal is to know both traditional and simplified characters. From Chinese III on, you can choose to write either in traditional or in simplified characters. Do not mix both. When it comes to reading, however, you are expected to be able to read both. All handouts and tests will be provided in both versions.
  8. Please do all writing (including homework and tests) in no. 2 pencil, black ink, or blue ink. Please do not use very light pencils or red or green ink. 

Classroom Etiquette

  1. No caps.
  2. No eating or chewing gum.
  3. Do not cross your legs when you are seated.
  4. Do not put your hands in your pockets when you do the dialog performance.
  5. Hand in your homework to your teacher with both hands.
  6. When the teacher says “我们上课吧/我們上課吧 (Let’s begin class)” to begin class, students are expected to respond with “ 老师好/老師好 (How are you teacher?)” to greet their teacher.
  7. When the teacher says “我们下课了/我們下課了 (We end class now)” at the end of class, students are expected to say “ 谢谢老师/謝謝老師 (Thank you, teacher)” to show their appreciation.
  8. When you write your teacher an email, start with “ 老师好/老師好 .” Do not start with “Hi” or “Hello”, which are considered inappropriate in this situation.
  9. If you must bring a cell phone to class, make certain it is turned off.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

assignment Activity Assignments