At Bennington, students work closely with faculty to design the content, structure, and sequence of their study and practice—their Plan—taking advantage of resources inside and outside the classroom to pursue their work.
The study of Chinese at Bennington is not memorizing vocabulary words and sentence patterns; it is acquiring the language naturally by becoming part of a community of Chinese language speakers and learners at Bennington and beyond. Simply put: students don't just learn a language but create an identity as a Chinese speaker.
Rather than practicing drills and exercises focused on mastering mechanics over negotiating meaning, Bennington students immerse themselves in content-based language and culture courses where they analyze, discuss, and synthesize concepts of deep cultural relevance in China and the broader Chinese-speaking community. Students engage with authentic materials in a variety of media, from prose, poetry, and song to visual arts and cinema. Students practice both active and passive skills as they engage in meaningful verbal and written communication with their faculty and each other on topics ranging from traditional cultural roots, such as Confucianism and Taoism, to contemporary social and cultural issues, such as the cultural revolution, the post-Mao opening, and contemporary poetry, art, music, and cinema.
Students also have opportunities to express their own creativity, writing essays and poems, creating videos, and producing performances. For students at Bennington, Chinese is more than a useful skill; it becomes part of the way they identify with the world.