The UN has designated April 20 as Chinese Language Day.

Chinese is spoken by more people on earth than any other language: more than 1.2 billion people. Mandarin is the official spoken language of China and Taiwan; and one of four official languages of Singapore. Cantonese is commonly spoken in Canton, Hong Kong and Macau, and many overseas Chinese communities. Hokkien is spoken in Fujian, Taiwan and throughout Southeast Asia. And there are many other varieties, which some call “topolects,” as well. Chinese is written using characters, which are largely comprised of phonetic and ideographic components.

With the growing importance of Greater China on the global stage, the study of Chinese language and culture has taken on a new urgency in the United States. Chinese is now one of the most-enrolled subjects offered by Global Languages at MIT.

In addition to the study of language, MIT offers a wide range of courses on Chinese culture, history, society and media taught in English. Our classes cover everything from the classics of traditional Chinese literature to advertising and internet culture in contemporary China. We also offer classes dealing with global Chinese immigration, Chinese Americans, and global Chinese food. One of our newest subjects is Chinese calligraphy offered over IAP. Also students at MIT may:

For many students, Chinese acquired at MIT and beyond has become a gateway to further studies and to career paths. For example Max Allen and Josh Woodward.

Why study Chinese? An alum answers this question in his 3-minute video!