Spring 2006 Class Schedule

27 Feb 2006

People keep telling me they want to hear more about what it’s like to be a grad student in China. I promise I’ll say more in the future, but for now here’s my class schedule for this semester. At this point I haven’t even been to the first class yet for most of these classes, though, so I can’t comment on the content yet.








Modern Chinese



Studies in Pragmatics

Modern Chinese





Chinese Syntax




Oh wait… I can comment on one thing. You’ll notice that one of my classes is “Modern Chinese,” which you might remember is what I was tested on to get into grad school in the first place. I got a B on that test. So why am I taking it again?

Well, because I don’t have to take the English or Chinese political theory classes, I have to make up the credits somehow. My advisor suggested I take the second semester of Modern Chinese in order to strengthen my understanding and get 4 credits pretty easily. I’m taking the “Studies in Pragmatics” course for the same reason. Both are in the college of Chinese as a Second Language (对外汉语), and since my advisor is a head honcho in that department, it’s easiest to arrange classes there. That’s OK, since my interests in applied linguistics lean heavily toward Chinese as a Second Language anyway.

The one downside is that the Modern Chinese class is an undergraduate course. I don’t mind taking class with the kiddies, but undergrad courses mean undergrad testing style: lots of memorization and written tests. All my other classes only require attendance and a final paper. Oh well. That I’ve learned that Modern Chinese stuff once before should make it easier. (And fortunately the prof said they’re not going to be covering much of the dreaded 修辞!)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Why didn’t you take another language course to satisfy the English requirement that regular grad students have to satisfy? Would have been good for you 🙂

  2. John B,

    Hmmm, I never thought of that.

    I doubt I would enjoy taking formal foreign language courses in China, though. When it comes to my language education, I’m something of a control freak. I controlled how I acquired Chinese (for the most part), and that’s the way I like it. 🙂

  3. How luck you are without the dreadful load of politics—- one of the reasons those universities lost an excellent student , such as me. ;;-P

  4. John,

    Is this considered a full-time program? How much time do you spend outside class each week reading and preparing? How long does it take to earn this type of Master’s degree?

  5. Matt,

    Yes, it’s full-time. Those courses make up a total of 13 credits, which is roughly the same load that my Chinese classmates have. I guess I spend anywhere from 1-3 hours preparing for each class, on average. Less for Modern Chinese. The applied linguistics MA program is three years, but there are only classes for the first two years. The last year is entirely for writing one’s thesis. Seems to me like a scam. I have to pay three years’ tuition for only two years of class!

  6. John,

    You are luckier than me. I paid three year’s tuition for only ONE year’s classes! IoI What’s worse, I screwed up the only year, so I have to go back to the starting point to pick up the linguistic theories in order to finish my thesis. Sociolinguistics is awesome! I love it! But my thesis is about Functional Grammar. By the way, is your sociolinguistics course given in Chinese or English?

  7. That’s interesting, I wonder if most Master’s programs in China work like that, where you get so much empty time to complete a thesis. I guess there might be a method to that form of madness, as with so many other things in China. How long does the thesis need to be?

  8. Matt,

    My life’s Law MA was set up in an identical way, and according to her that’s how it’s done pretty much everywhere.

    Her thesis was somewhere around 25,000 characters.

  9. Jassica,

    All my classes are in Chinese. It’s a regular Chinese program.

  10. Is this the ‘Semester of Hell/Certain Doom/Tons and Tons and Tons of Work’ you always claimed was right around the corner? Or is it next fall? /sarcasm

  11. You mention you really ‘controlled’ your Chinese learning. I really appreciated your section on the pronuciation. Have you talked elsewhere about how you learned Chinese, especially how you built up the vocabulary. Thx!

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