CaptureChinese language courses will be offered at Washtenaw Community College beginning in the fall semester of 2016.

In partnership with the International Institute, School of East Asian Studies at the University of Michigan, WCC has received a grant from the federal government under Title VII, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In promoting equality, one of the goals is to support the instruction and learning of foreign languages.

Juan Redondo, head of the Foreign Languages department at WCC, has wanted to bring the Chinese language courses to campus for nearly a decade. Having traveled to China several times, he sees the value of learning Chinese, in both cultural and economic terms.

“Asians account for 6.8 of every 10 people on the planet. The Chinese language is here to stay.”

Having a Masters degree in Early Economics History from the University of California, Berkeley, Redondo has watched the growth of Asia’s influence in the world economy. Beyond China, communities all over Asia speak Chinese, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and Singapore.

“China is not a country, but a continent.” Redondo spoke metaphorically, but is literal about the diversity of the country and the importance of the language.

With more than a billion native Chinese speakers, the future of business tied to the global market may depend on one’s ability to communicate in Chinese. More than a dozen Chinese companies have already arrived in the state of Michigan, establishing a presence in several industries.

Redondo sees a bright future for anyone who learns the language, and said that students who learn the Chinese language will be very employable.

“Chinese is the language of the future, and the future is now,” he said.

Redondo said the search to find a qualified instructor was not easy but WCC found a highly qualified candidate.

A native of the port city of Tianjin, China, Gao Yin holds a Masters degree in Japanese language and has many years of experience teaching Chinese. As a new instructor at WCC, she will teach Chinese in the first year of the grant and additionally advise on Japanese language curricula in the second year.

“Yin is tri-lingual and has many years of teaching experience. She will be a valued asset to the Foreign Languages department and will have a great impact on the students who learn Chinese and Japanese,” Redondo said.

Having learned another Asian language (Japanese) herself, she will bring a fresh perspective and understanding to her teaching that will benefit her students.

Mandarin, the official spoken element of Chinese, is built on only 401 syllables and the written language boasts more than 50,000 characters that consist not of an alphabet, but of ideographs and pictographs. The richness and complexity of the language makes it one of the most challenging—and rewarding—languages to learn.

These language courses will open a pathway for students interested in Asian languages to take four semesters of Chinese (or Japanese or Korean) at WCC and transition to further studies at U-M, according to Redondo.
WCC will eventually offer four semesters of Chinese language learning—levels I and III being offered in fall semesters and levels II and IV in winter semesters—and will focus on spoken Mandarin and the written Chinese characters.

In addition to Chinese, the grant will allow for courses in Japanese language to be added in the second year, and courses in Korean language to be added in the third year.

By Jessica Bibbee

Public Relations Intern