Chinese Course FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

  • I am interested in taking Chinese language classes. How do I know which class is right for me?
  • Anyone who has had significant exposure to the Chinese language (Mandarin, or Cantonese or other dialects) through formal classroom study or living with native speakers should take the placement evaluation. If you have never learned the Chinese language in a formal setting or lived with Chinese speakers for a significant period, no placement evaluation is required; just enroll in a Chinese 1 class.

    See the Chinese placement evaluation page for more information.
  • What are the differences between Chinese 1 & 1BL?
  • Chinese 1 (and Chn 2 & 3 series) is offered for true beginners of Mandarin Chinese. Students in the class are not assumed to have any background in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese. The course equally develops elementary level skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in Mandarin Chinese in everyday communication settings. Fundamentals of pronunciation, grammar, and Chinese characters will be introduced.

    Chinese 1BL (and 2BL & 3BL series) is designed for students who already have elementary level ability to understand and speak Mandarin Chinese in daily communication, although they may have some accent or not be completely fluent when speaking Mandarin. While all the communicative skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing will be trained in Chinese 1BL, the emphases will be on standard Mandarin pronunciation, Chinese characters, and discourse level conversations.

    By contrast, Chinese 1CN (and 2CN & 3CN series) is a beginning Mandarin Chinese class for students who cannot speak Mandarin Chinese but already have basic comprehension and speaking skills in Cantonese or another Chinese dialect. Additionally, students in 1CN are also assumed to have had certain prior exposure to reading and/or writing in Chinese. While all the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing will be trained in 1-3CN course series, the emphasis will be on Mandarin pronunciation and fluent conversation. Depending on their reading and writing competence, students will be placed into different levels of Chinese courses upon successful completion of the course series (CHN 1CN-3CN).   IMPORTANT NOTE - The CN series has not been offered for several years due to lack of sufficient enrollment. Students with a Cantonese background that want to study Mandarian Chinese should take the language placement test to determine if the regular Chinese series or the BL series would be more appropriate.
  • I do not know any Chinese and would like to begin studying it, but my fall schedule is already full. Can I start learning Chinese in the winter or spring quarter?
  • First-year Chinese is a year-long sequence consisting of Chinese 1, 2, and 3 for students with no prior background.  Chinese 1, 2 and 3 are all currently offered each quarter in the Fall, Winter and Spring. Chinese 1BL, 2BL, and 3BL are for students who have basic conversational ability but Chinese 1BL is only offered in Fall, 2BL in the Winter and 3BL in the Spring.  The placement evaluation will determine which class is appropriate for you. 
  • If I cannot get into the language class I want, can I take a higher level for now and take a lower level class later?
  • In most cases, no. This is called "back-tracking" and violates university policy.  

    Chinese: For example, if you have taken CHN 3BL and then take CHN 2BL in a subsequent quarter, the lower class result would become invalid. Similarly, you cannot take CHN 120 (advanced Chinese) and then take 111, 112, or 113 (third-year Chinese) later.  However, CHN 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 140, 160, and literature courses can be taken out of sequence.

    Japanese: For example, if you were placed in and completed JPN 6 and then take JPN 5 in a subsequent quarter, the lower class would become invalid.

    Please note that JPN 131-138 are non-sequential readings courses belonging to a separate category from sequential language courses; these classes do not trigger the backtracking rule. (Admittance to these courses requires completion of third-year Japanese, equivalent language competency, or consent of the instructor). Courses in which Japanese literature is read in English (JPN 101, 102, 103, etc.) may be taken at any time (there is no language requirement and they may be taken out of sequence).
  • I am a Cantonese speaker. Do we have Cantonese courses?
  • Currently we only offer Mandarin Chinese courses.
  • I only know bopomofo as used in Taiwan, but our textbooks use pinyin. What should I do ?
  • Experience has shown that students who know bopomofo can learn pinyin in 1-3 hours. Visit the Pinyin and BoPoMoFo comparison chart.
  • I am still the sixth on the waiting list. I don't think I can be enrolled in the class. Can I audit the class?
  • We appreciate your enthusiasm for learning Chinese. Unfortunately, we have to limit the class size in order to maintain quality control over the language learning environment. Language courses require intensive interaction and practice. Consequently auditing Chinese language courses is not permitted. Exceptions are possible only if the class size is less than the limit, and if the instructor gives you special permission.
  • I took some courses in EAP. Can they be transferred toward my Chinese or Japanese major or minor?
  • To determine the transferability of the credits from EAP, you must have your department advisor's approval.  You should make an appointment with the advisor to go over the official transcripts, syllabi, and sometimes course material (text books, exams, and homework).  Transfer of credits is not automatic.  If course is a language course, please see Professor Jiao Li (, coordinator of the Chinese language program, or Professor Nobuko Koyama (, coordinator of the Japanese language program for evaluation.

    It is your responsibility to keep all the course materials for evaluation. In case your course materials do not suggest the level of Chinese competence that you assume you have (e.g., you think you can transfer credits for 3rd-year Chinese but your course exam papers and homework only indicate the second level of achievements), you may need to take an evaluation test to ascertain your actual level. To transfer literature courses, please see the faculty or undergraduate advisor.
  • I studied abroad for a year at a university that is not part of the EAP. Can I still have some credits transferred toward the major or minor requirement?
  • You will find many programs for study in China and Japan that are not connected with the UC system. Some of them are quite good and you are welcome to participate in them, but you need to be prepared for complications when you try to get UC credit for them. It is, of course, possible, but the process may be time consuming and in the end there's no guarantee your courses will be accepted either for UC credit or the major. The same is true for language courses taken at other schools in this country. Whether transferring from another school in the U.S. or from abroad, contact Undergraduate Admissions to discuss coursework transferability.  If Undergraduate Admissions approves course work to be added to your academic transcript (this can take several months),  then make an appointment with the faculty advisor to go over the official transcript, syllabi, and sometimes course material (text books, exams, and homework) to determine if course work can be applied toward Chinese or Japanese Major. Approval of credits by Undergraduate Admissions does not automatically mean that you will receive department major approval.  For the minor, you may use up to two approved transferred courses, and the other three must be taken at UC Davis.

    Keep in mind that there are also University "in-residence" and residence requirement.  See links below for additional clarification.  (Note:  UC Davis Summer and Quarter Abroad units are considered "in residence").

    You must have been registered for 3 quarters at UC Davis
    35 of your final 45 units must be at UC Davis
    18 upper division units in the major and 27 upper division units overall must be at UC Davis.
  • Do you offer Chinese courses in the summer?
  • Intensive language courses (CHN 1A and JPN 1A) are occasionally offered during the summer, but this depends on course enrollments. Interested students may check the school summer-sessions course website for details.