Starting Fall 2015, the Beijing – Contemporary Issues in China Program will merge with the Beijing – Language Intensive Program to create one cohesive curriculum called Beijing – Contemporary China & Chinese Language. If you are interested in enrolling in Fall 2015 or beyond, please visit the Beijing – Contemporary China & Chinese Language page.
What better place to study contemporary issues in China than in Beijing, a city where the future is inextricably linked to the past? From the majestic Summer Palace to the bold designs of the National Center for the Performing Arts, the sights and sounds of Beijing will enchant you as you study courses organized by IES Abroad, taught by top scholars in the field.
Based on the campus of the Beijing Foreign Studies University, the program begins with the Understanding China seminar. As part of this seminar, you conduct an interview project that culminates with student presentations. Next, you take a sequential series of rigorous 300-level seminars (such as Chinese Government and Politics and China’s Development and Environmental Challenges) taught one at a time at an accelerated pace, while you continue with your daily Chinese language studies.
This program is structured around three distinctive “blocks” or seminar modules that all students must take. You take one course per block, for a total of three during the semester. Area studies seminars are taught in English by scholars from leading academic institutions in China, the United States, and other countries.
Each course features extensive experiential learning, and two courses include course-related excursions to locations such as Yunnan Province and Tibet. With daily two- to three-hour seminars and discussions, along with journaling, presentations, and challenging assignments, this program offers in-depth engagement with special China-focused academic topics.
Beijing will be your classroom. From eating jian bing purchased from a street vendor to haggling in Mandarin in a bustling market, everything you do is part of your learning experience.
We want you to feel at home in China, so we do everything we can to help you integrate into life in Beijing. To facilitate language improvement and cultural understanding, you have the option of living in a homestay or in a dorm with a Chinese roommate, depending on availability. We also organize many cultural activities throughout the semester.
After you are admitted, refer to the Travel Dates section of the Predeparture Information in your MyIESabroad account before booking travel.
Our mission is simple: to provide you with the best study abroad program possible—which includes the highest quality academic and cultural experiences. We offer courses that explore topics such as Chinese language, environment, development, and culture through an in-depth and hands-on approach. Our world-class professors enhance your academic experience and provide you with new perspectives each day in class.
The three sequential blocks each feature two 3-credit, 300-level courses on China, as well as Chinese language classes. You select one area studies course in each block. Each block lasts four and a half weeks. Chinese language continues the entire semester.
All courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted and you must take 15 credit hours per semester.
Required for all students:
Center-Wide Language Pledge
Our Beijing faculty takes great pride in the quality of its language training. In order to create a Chinese language environment and maximize individual proficiency, you are required to observe a rigorous, campus-wide language pledge on the Beijing Foreign Studies University campus. “English-friendly weekends” are interspersed throughout the semester to give you a break from the rigors of the language pledge. Students with no prior language experience are expected to join the language pledge six weeks into the semester.
This is a list of potential course offerings. After you are accepted, you will see a list of final course offerings in your MyIESabroad account.
To learn more about IES Abroad’s innovative theoretical and pedagogical approaches to teaching language abroad, refer to the IES Abroad MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication.
Popularly known as Bei Wai or BFSU, Beijing Foreign Studies University is one of Beijing’s most prestigious academic institutions. A teaching and research university, BFSU has a student body of 7,000 and is one of the 100 universities nationwide selected for priority development into the 21st century. IES Abroad is currently the only resident U.S. program at Bei Wai, giving you a better opportunity to integrate with Chinese students. Some students join the university student union and intramural sports activities, such as ping pong and basketball.
If you are interested in volunteering while abroad, staff in Beijing can provide you contact information. In past years, students have volunteered as English teachers in elementary and secondary schools, at a women's call center, and at NGOs assisting children with various disabilities.
Unique to this program, IES Abroad arranges exciting and extensive academic travel, site visits, and field trips that are incorporated into the curriculum. Some trips are associated with specific courses and travel outside Beijing for up to two weeks. Other trips are shorter and connect your academics to local sites in Beijing.
We want to make sure that your greatest challenge is deciding which landmarks to see first or discovering the best café—not finding a place to live where you feel comfortable. We do our best to locate housing that is reflective of how the local community lives. Our goal is that when you leave Beijing, it will feel like home.
You live in a language-immersion environment to support rapid language advancement. Housing options require a commitment to speaking Chinese as much as possible, and adhering to household and residence hall etiquette that is in harmony with Chinese cultural norms. The final decision and location of housing is made once you arrive in China.
Homestays provide the ideal environment for learning about China and improving your Chinese language skills. Our homestays are located within a short walk or bus ride to the Center. All homestays feature a private bedroom. While living in a home may involve making some sacrifices of privacy and personal freedom, our Chinese homestay families are universally eager to get to know you and share their ideas, language, and culture with you. We will find you a suitable “English-friendly” homestay if you don’t have Chinese language experience. Homestay opportunities may be limited.
You are provided breakfast and dinner by your host family, seven days a week, while the program is in session.
Residence Halls with Chinese Roommates
Depending on availability, you have the extraordinary opportunity to live with a Chinese student in a student residence hall. Although sharing a room with a Chinese roommate may require you to make cultural adjustments and compromises, the rewards are significant.
Students often develop strong friendships with the Chinese students in the hall, and enjoy impromptu gatherings both on and off the BFSU campus. Chinese roommates are selected from BFSU’s prestigious Chinese language department and the School of International Business.
The rooms are wired for Internet access and the residence halls include student lounges, shared bathrooms, washing machines, and kitchen facilities.
Meals are not included, but you can eat at one of several university cafeterias or prepare your own meals in shared kitchens. Take advantage of the many small, inexpensive, privately-operated restaurants near the campus and throughout Beijing.
Part of making you feel at home in Beijing is doing our best to help you feel safe and cared for. Whether it is an orientation program that makes you feel prepared, your housing that is well-located and comfortable, or the field trips that take you off the beaten path—we’re all about our student services. This is just one of the things we’re known for.
May 2014 Newsletter
March 2014 Newsletter
The program begins with a specially- designed, five-day program introducing you to the IES Abroad staff, your fellow students, Beijing Foreign Studies University, and the city of Beijing. Topics such as academics, housing, transportation, cultural adjustment, and health and safety are covered during your orientation. All students take an on-site language placement test to determine their appropriate language course level. One-on-one advising sessions on language and area studies classes are arranged, as well as homestay placements.
CORE™, IES Abroad’s Comprehensive Orientation and Re-entry Experience, begins during orientation and continues throughout the semester with activities focusing on cultural adjustment, goal achievement, and preparing for the return home.
Activities include “Explore Beijing” (task-based activities for you to learn the transportation system and to visit historical areas and places frequented by students), and the “Tiananmen Trifecta” (a tour of Tiananmen Square, the Beijing Urban Planning Center, and the Forbidden City).
Redefine the way you live and learn in Beijing through our cultural events, such as:
Even though your adventure starts in Beijing, our field trips and excursions take you beyond the city to discover the culture and traditions of your host country.
You participate in one of two course-related excursions, depending on which course you take during the semester. Course-related excursions relate directly to your academic coursework. Two of the courses in the semester take you outside of Beijing to explore areas of significant regional and political interest and promote engagement with local experts.
Extended course-related excursions are accompanied both by professors and IES Abroad administrative staff. You also have at least two three-day weekends to travel independently throughout China. Create your own itinerary and explore this fascinating and diverse country.
Extended course-related excursions:
Ethnicity in Contemporary China: Tibetup to 14 days
Travel to Lhasa, Tibet, with a Tibetan scholar and explore the surrounding areas to gain a deeper understanding of the Tibetan milieu and its interaction with the Chinese state. Spend time in Tibetan monasteries, hike with nomadic herders, and experience urban life in Lhasa
Note: The destination of this trip is subject to change at any time.
China's Development & Environmental Challenges: Yunnan Provinceup to 14 days
Join your instructors on an exploration of biodiversity and sustainable development issues in Yunnan province. Examine the ecological effects of urbanization on Yunnan’s capital, Kunming, then travel to Lijiang to observe the positive and negative effects of tourism on the local ecosystem. Finally, travel to Shangri-la to understand the synergy between traditional Tibetan practices and the local environment.
NOTE: IES Abroad field trip destinations, activities, and lengths of stay may vary according to term and availability.
Optional Tibet Field Trip8-10 days
An optional trip to Tibet is offered to all IES Beijing students. Choose to travel either before the fall semester or after the spring semester.
For the optional Tibet trip, you travel to Lhasa, learn about Tibetan Buddhism, hike high mountain passes, and visit the Jokhang Temple and various monasteries, including the Sera Monastery to observe a debate ritual. Lodging is provided either in local hostels or camping, and most meals and all local transportation are provided as part of the additional fee.
Note: The destination of this optional pre-or post-semester trip is subject to change or cancellation at any time. You are responsible for all costs associated with this optional trip. No academic credit is awarded for this trip.
About the Center
Our Center is located on the east campus of Beijing Foreign Studies University near BFSU’s library, gym, and Olympic-sized swimming pool. The Center is in Beijing’s northwestern district of Haidian, home to more than 20 universities and Beijing’s largest residential district.
Zhao Ning graduated from the Northern University for Nationalities with a B.A. in the English language, and then received her M.A. in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics from Beijing Normal University. She has been working at the IES Abroad Beijing Center since 2006, and has taught Chinese language classes of all levels. In 2009, she became the Associate Director of the Beijing Center, and was promoted to Center Director in December 2014.
Ms. Zhao taught at Bucknell University from 2008-2009, and has been focusing her research on Chinese language pronunciation acquisition and teaching methodology ever since. As a member of ACTFL, her recent academic research has been on the Oral Proficiency Assessment. She took the OPI Tester Training in June 2014, and is pursuing a tester certificate.
Contact Zhao Laoshi for questions about Chinese classes, language placement, and other issues related to the Chinese instruction at IES Beijing.
IES Abroad Staff
Louis VonStudent Affairs Assistant
Chuantao XiangOffice Assistant
IES Abroad language faculty are experienced Chinese language instructors from the Beijing Foreign Studies University and other universities such as Peking University, Qinghua University, and the Beijing Normal University. IES provides regular training in international second language teaching methods.
Area Studies Faculty
IES area studies faculty typically hold advanced degrees from prestigious Chinese or Western universities, have studied or taught at Western universities, have published in China and abroad, and currently hold positions at universities such as Peking University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, People's University, and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.