This spring, San Bernardino Valley College has open to students the opportunity to learn a language spoken by hundreds of millions of people around the world: Mandarin Chinese.

Taught by Hsiao Hui Shih, this beginning course will help students develop competence in listening, speaking, reading, and writing as they learn basic vocabulary, sentence structures, and characters. Nori Sogomonian, co-chair of the Modern Languages Department, says this is the first time the college is offering a Mandarin Chinese course.

"The course curriculum was written and submitted through the SBVC Curriculum process three years ago, and we are just now able to offer it since the courses have been approved and we have hired an adjunct faculty to teach it online for now," she explains. "We selected Mandarin Chinese based on informal data acquired from students, faculty, and staff expressing an interest in Chinese language courses."

By offering Mandarin, SBVC is providing students with "an alternative language and culture to study and integrate into their chosen majors, whether they decide to transfer and major in Chinese language and culture, liberal arts, or apply the language to a business degree," Sogomonian says.

The CHIN 101 and CHIN 102 credits will be UC and CSU transferrable. During the writing of the course outlines, "we did not anticipate the challenges we face with respect to the coronavirus," Sogomonian says.

"Luckily, the faculty we hired has experience teaching online and we have a student body interested in breaking cultural barriers. We are happy to see that the class has filled to capacity and has a wait list. We hope to generate more interest in students learning Mandarin Chinese for their general interest and careers."