This summer, NYU Shanghai welcomes 21 students to participate in its Summer Chinese Immersion Program. The program has also included 6 NYU New York students for the first time after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Jiani Lian takes the Chinese Immersion Program Coordinator role after teaching the advanced level class last summer. She enjoyed seeing her students making remarkable progress in a short period. The program is indeed intense and challenging for both students and teachers but also rewarding as it helps students develop a high level of proficiency.

The intermediate Chinese level is led by Professor Jiani Lian, Mengyun Jin, and Xiaobo Shui, while the advanced Chinese level is led by Professor Qiyi Zhang and Chenchen Zhao. 

Despite the large size of the immersion program compared to the previous year, this year’s program has implemented a significant improvement by splitting the levels into two classes for both intermediate and advanced students. This adjustment ensures a favorable 5:1 student-to-teacher ratio, creating an optimal learning environment.

Seeing students become more confident in their language abilities in a short amount is gratifying for the Chinese immersion program teachers. Professor Lian taught Stephen Wukela (NYU Shanghai ’25) elementary-level Chinese last semester. Stephen initially faced challenges with grasping basic grammar structures and lacked confidence in speaking. Professor Lian noticed significant progress in Stephen as he immersed himself into a Chinese-speaking environment and dedicated significant time and effort to language learning.

This progress does not only include their ability to speak, listen, read, and write in Chinese but also their understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture and customs. The program has held weekly cultural classes and language activities such as calligraphy, mahjong, and dian cha. With the lift of pandemic restrictions, the immersion program spent two days collaborating with Xiangcun biji 乡村笔记 (Beyond the City) organization on Shengsi island in Zhejiang province.

Photo by Jiani Lian

Enzo Kim (NYU Shanghai ’26), majoring in Honors Mathematics, returned to NYU Shanghai after undergoing two years of mandatory military training in South Korea. Enzo feels like he must put himself back into the study routine and he thinks that the Chinese immersion program is a perfect tool for him to put himself back into the groove of language learning. This is Enzo’s second time participating in the immersion program. He believes that the Chinese Immersion Program at NYU Shanghai is an ideal resource to reignite his language skills and fully immerse himself in China once again.

Wendy Benitez (NYU Stern ’26), majoring in Business and Political Economy, heard about the immersion program from her elementary Chinese teacher. Wendy is here to complete the core requirement for her major. At first, the program was quite challenging for her. However, as Wendy immerses herself in the program and takes advantage of the opportunities it offers, she begins to thrive and grow both academically and personally.

As the program progresses, students aspire to attain not only fluency in the Chinese language but also a profound comprehension of Chinese culture, history, and society. While it seems intimidating at first to put yourself outside of your comfort zone, you gradually adapt and develop your strategies for learning. These routines become a source of comfort and stability, guiding them through the challenges and uncertainties of the program. Over time, students gain confidence and find a sense of familiarity in their language studies, cultural exploration, and interactions with native speakers.