Q: I am interested in pursuing either a Chinese/Japanese Major or an East Asian Languages and Cultures Major. What are the differences between them? What are the course requirements?
A: Simply put, the Chinese/Japanese Major requires four years of Chinese/Japanese language study, whereas the East Asian Languages and Cultures major requires three years of Chinese/Japanese language study with more options to choose disciplinary courses and electives. The East Asian Languages and Cultures major also offers a dual-language option. Please visit the respective sections on this site or consult with a DALLC faculty.
Q: I only begin to take Chinese or Japanese 101/102 during my sophomore year, can I still major in the department?
A: Yes. You may consider choosing the East Asian Languages and Cultures major which requires three years of language study plus some other coursework. However, if you can take intensive language courses at our recommended study-away programs either during the summer or during one or two semesters, you will still be able to complete at least four years of language study before you graduate and thus major in either Chinese or Japanese.
Q: I speak fluent Chinese/Japanese and am interested in pursuing Chinese/Japanese as my major at Williams. Can I get course credits toward the major and/or graduation for being “placed out” of the language courses here?
A: No. The total number of courses required for fulfilling the major and/or graduation remains the same. If you would like to pursue a major in the department, you can use faculty approved electives to replace the lower-level language courses that you are placed out of.
Q: What is the Language Table?
A: The Language Table is a great opportunity for you to improve your conversational skills in a target language outside of the classroom. Faculty, staff, students, and community members gather there to have a friendly chat over a meal. We encourage students of all levels to take full advantage of this opportunity.
Q: Which Language Tables are available?
A: The department offers weekly Chinese and Japanese Language Tables. The Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (CFLLC) also occasionally organizes the Korean Language Table and the Hindi/Urdu Language Table. Please check out the Daily Messages at the beginning of each semester for meeting times and places.
Q: I am in a lower-level language class now and I feel overwhelmed when I go to the Language Table. I can't understand what people are talking about. The presence of the professors there makes me feel even more nervous. Shall I still go to the table even if I feel I am not learning much there?
A: Practice is the key to success in foreign language learning. For lower-level students, you may feel some anxiety when you interact with more fluent speakers. But it is a great opportunity for you to improve your communicative skills. To lower your anxiety level and make the experience more enjoyable and productive, you may want to do the following: 1) go to the language table together with some of your classmates so that you can chat among your peers or feel less nervous; or 2) prepare some questions as icebreakers to initiate conversations with others, and try your best to maintain a conversation initiated by you. Also, remember that the faculty is there to help you practice, not to check your performance. So there is no reason to be nervous. With more practice, you will gradually feel more and more comfortable chatting at the language table. The skills you develop at the language table will ultimately enable you to successfully interact and communicate with native speakers when you go to Chinese-speaking countries.
Q: I am a native or near-native speaker and I am not taking any language classes at Williams. Am I welcome at the Language Table?
A: Of course. The Language Tables are a great community to make new friends!
Q: What do Language Fellows do?
A: Language Fellows are intern teachers in the department. They usually co-teach language courses with lead professors who are responsible for training and mentoring them.
Q: What does the Teaching Associate do?
A: The Teaching Associate usually does not teach courses but holds weekly conversational sessions with language students outside of class. They are usually also responsible for organizing extracurricular activities for students.
More information can be found on the department Language Fellows and Teaching Associate programs page.
Q: I would like to pursue an Independent Study project with a Chinese or Japanese faculty member. How do I go about getting approval for such a project?
A: Please read the course description for Chinese/Japanese 497 and Chinese/Japanese 498 in the Course Catalog before contacting any faculty member. Basically, you need to send in a proposal to the Chinese/Japanese Program one semester in advance during the course pre-registration period. In addition, you need to preregister for the course in Peoplesoft.
Q: What information should be included in the proposal?
A: Go to the Registrar's office website and download their "Independent Study" petition form. Follow the guidelines there to prepare your proposal. According to their guidelines, you need to describe your project and how you intend to complete it in about 500 words. Include your motivation for pursuing the project and why it cannot be done within the framework of a regularly offered course. Describe in some detail what you intend to achieve over the course of the independent study. Provide an estimate of your weekly working hours and weekly contact hours with your faculty supervisor during the course of the semester project. Please note that one contact hour per week is standard, and that ultimately it is the faculty who decides on the actual contact hours. Please also provide a week-by-week plan for your project, a reading/research list, and if relevant, a description of the methodology and sources you will use for your work. If the project includes being away from campus for any part of the semester, explain fully.
Q: What will happen after I send in my proposal?
A: The Chinese and Japanese faculty will discuss the merits of your proposal and consider the staffing situation in the department. Please note that sending in a proposal or talking to any faculty member about your proposal does not guarantee the approval of your proposal.
Q: What does it mean that the department needs to "look at the staffing situation" when making a decision on my proposal?
A: While an "independent study" project counts as one regular course for you, it does not count as a regular course for the faculty. Therefore, the department wants to make sure that all regular courses are adequately staffed and properly taught before possibly asking staff to take on extra teaching responsibilities. The department also needs to make sure that all students who have sent in independent study proposals will get equal access to the limited program resources. We usually give priority to majors who need such a course to fulfill their major requirements.
Q: I would like to write a thesis for the major. How shall I go about doing it?
A: Please visit the "Honors Program" page on this site.