Heritage Language Programs - Chinese

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)

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Address: 160 Baker Hall, 5000 Forbe Ave. Pittsburgh, PA, 15213

Contact: Sue-mei Wu
Associate Teaching Professor of Chinese

Email: suemei@andrew.cmu.edu

Telephone: 412-268-5949

Fax: 412-268-1328

Web address: http://ml.hss.cmu.edu/ml/

Type of institution: Research university

Languages taught: Chinese (Mandarin)

Course sequence for students of Mandarin speaking heritage:

For students of Cantonese speaking heritage:


Program Description

Purposes and goals of the program : Provide a more effective curriculum for heritage students of Chinese

Type of program : A heritage track within a foreign language program

The program was founded in 2000. The various courses were created in particular to meet the needs of the different groups of Chinese heritage students at CMU.

Faculty's and administration's expectations for the program : Faculty would like to see an increase in the number of heritage students majoring in Chinese.


Countries of origin : Most are from the Chinese speaking regions such as China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Total student enrollment : 40-55 per semester

Age of students: 18-25


Percentage of students who complete the program : 90%

Percentage of students who continue to study the heritage language after completing the program : 70%

Continuing students take upper level courses with foreign language students.

Possible reasons for students’ withdrawal : heavy course load for their other major or minor


Total number of faculty teaching in the program : 3

Number of tenure-track professors : 1

 Number of full-time instructors : 2

Languages in which faculty members are proficient : Faculty members are proficient in Chinese and English. They are native Chinese speakers.

Credentials: Doctorate, PhD in linguistics, Education and Literature.

Professional development opportunities for faculty : Travel grants for attending professional conferences and workshops


Students are grouped according to level:

Elementary, intermediate and advanced, 4 hours per week

Heritage Skills

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing

Culture taught

  • Customs History
  • Festivals
  • Traditions/beliefs
  • Religion
  • Folktales
  • Arts and crafts
  • Dances
  • Songs
  • Rhymes
  • Social and cultural norms
  • Cultural appropriateness
  • Literature

Methodologies and instructional strategies : Learner-centered, content-based instruction, ACTFL 5Cs principles ( communication, culture, connections, comparisons, communities), and use of technology


Zhongguo Yuan. Keeping our Heritage (Elementary Level), developed by CMU faculty, manuscript

Zhongguo Yuan. Keeping our Heritage (Intermediate Level), developed by CMU faculty, manuscript

Other materials used for instruction : Web materials and exercises

Technology used in the program : Web exercises, Blackboard


Research on heritage language issues or heritage program evaluations : The faculty have been working to develop and revise courses, teaching materials, and pedagogical approaches to meet the special needs of our Chinese heritage students.

Challenges that your program has experienced : The university provides financial support, and all levels are regular courses. However, funding remains a challenge.

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