Beijing is considered the place to study Chinese in China—it sets the standard pronunciation for the rest of the country. As the political, intellectual, and cultural capital of China, it is also an ideal place to study contemporary China. The people of Beijing are friendly and proud to be from this fascinating city—what a perfect environment to study abroad.
Our Contemporary China & Chinese Language program offers students an array of Chinese language courses, including upper level, topic-based Chinese language electives, and area studies courses taught in English. This program will benefit students who want to rapidly expand their knowledge of written and spoken Chinese, and their knowledge about China in general.
The program is based on the Beijing Foreign Studies University (Bei Wai) campus, one of Beijing’s premier academic universities. Grammar classes, small drill sessions, and hour-long private tutorials (twice a week) combine for an intensive study of Chinese two hours daily, four days a week. Advanced students may select additional 2-credit topical language classes, such as Classical Chinese, Modern Slang & Pop Culture, Personal & Business Communication.
In addition to your Chinese language coursework, you will choose from 3-credit Area Studies courses (taught in English) in disciplines such Asian Studies, Economics, International Relations, Political Science, and Literature to complement your language studies.
Beijing will be your classroom. Visit Beijing’s most significant palaces, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, and learn about the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Enjoy local customs, tea tastings, and regional cuisine—like jian bing crepes, zha jiang noodles and an assortment of jiozi dumplings. You can also practice your language skills and witness what you learn in the classroom first-hand by going to local markets and bargaining with vendors for the best deals or simply exploring this magnificent city. Everything you do will be part of your learning experience.
For students interested in education and child development, you have the opportunity to apply to take part in a unique Global Future Leaders (GFL) housing option. If selected for GFL, you will live with a Chinese homestay family for free (16 meals/week included) and will spend at least 20 hours per week teaching English to the child/ren of the homestay. This highly immersive and affordable option is an excellent way to learn in-depth about Chinese culture and customs, and make strong connections through GFL and your homestay family.
We want you to feel at home in Beijing, so we do everything we can to help you integrate into life in the city. With our introduction to Beijing during your orientation and our fun cultural events as a base, you’ll soon become familiar with the Beijing way of life.
After you are admitted, refer to the Travel Dates section of the Predeparture Information in your MyIESabroad account before booking travel.
Please plan to arrive between 7 a.m. and midnight of the arrival day. If you are booking a late night arrival, you should plan to arrive in the late night of arrival day rather than the day before.
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 Chinese language and area studies 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.
Fall, spring, and academic year students must enroll in a minimum of 15 semester credits.
In order to meet the 15-credit requirement, you take a required 6-credit Chinese language course and choose between a combination of the following:
If you are a heritage speaker (you have a background of informal familial learning), you can take advantage of custom-designed programming that focuses on your individual language needs. IES Abroad Beijing reviews the level of each heritage student on a case-by-case basis and creates a program that allows you to progress further in small classes.
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 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 POSSIBLE COURSE OFFERINGS. THE AVAILABILITY OF COURSES VARIES FROM TERM TO TERM.
Beijing Foreign Studies University
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.
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.
All of our housing options present language-immersion environments to support rapid language advancement. Housing options will 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 and university regulations. Please note that the Global Future Leaders (GFL) Immersive Homestay option requires additional application materials, and that housing for that option will be finalized before departure.
IES Abroad Homestay
Homestays provide the ideal environment for learning about China and improving your Chinese language skills. Our homestays are usually 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.
You are provided breakfast and dinner by your host family, seven days a week, while the program is in session. Homestay opportunities may be limited.
Global Future Leaders (GFL) Immersive Homestay
Take your cultural immersion to the next level by choosing a homestay as a part of the Global Future Leaders (GFL) housing option. You will:
This option is ideal if you are an open-minded, engaged learner and teacher. It is a great way to make connections with local Chinese families and make a difference in the life of your host sibling(s). Please note that this housing option requires a short application and selection by GFL. Homestay placements by GFL are not guaranteed. (If not selected by GFL, you will be given the opportunity to switch to IES Abroad housing.)
International Student Dormitory with Chinese Roommates
Depending on availability, you have the extraordinary opportunity to live with a Chinese student in BFSU's International Student Dormitory. 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 dormitory, 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 dormitory includes 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 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’s the orientation program that prepares you for what’s ahead, 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.
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. You take an onsite language placement test to determine your appropriate language course level. One-on-one advising sessions on language and area studies classes are arranged, as well as homestay placement.
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:
If you are interested in volunteering while abroad, staff in Beijing can provide you with contact information. In past years, students have taught English and instructed science experiments in elementary and secondary schools. Other volunteer placements have included a women’s call center and an NGO assisting children with various disabilities. Volunteering is a great opportunity for cultural immersion and students find it significantly contributes to their language development and vocabulary expansion.
Additional Cultural Immersion
Looking to gain first-hand experience of Chinese life, customs, and cuisine while making long-lasting friendships? Check out the Global Future Leaders Immersive Homestay option (see Housing)!
Students in the Contemporary China & Chinese Language program will be able to participate in one extended multi-day field trip included in the cost of the program. Students participating in the Global Future Leaders option (see Housing) will also be eligible for all IES Abroad field trips.
Live with a Miao family in a Miao viallage near Kaili. Experience traditional Miao cuisine, song and dance, and help with a rice paddy harvest. Hike the ancient Huaxi cliffs in Guiyang, and finally visit the Huangguoshu waterfalls in Anshun City.
Travel to the autonomous region of Ningxia in the northwest of China. Visit the West Xia Imperial Tombs, Qingtong's 108 pagodas, and Liupan Mountain National Park. Then visit the Zhongwei City environmental protection area to understand how China administers it's desert regions. Enjoy sheepskin rafting of the Yellow River and sand sliding.
GUANGXI 10 DAYS
With its karst towers rising out of lush river plains, Guangxi is regarded as one of the most beautiful provinces of China. Travel north first to hike through stunning landscapes, then visit the town of Yangshuo, home to a wealth of outdoor and cultural activities.
Live with a Tibetan family in Shangri-la in northern Yunnan and explore Tibetan culture. Hike through Asia’s deepest gorge, Tiger Leaping Gorge, and explore the city of Kunming. This course-related excursion takes you on an exploration of ethnicity in Yunnan Province.
NOTE: The location and duration of IES Abroad field trips are subject to change at any time.
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.
Features of the IES Abroad Beijing Center include:
Zhao Ning 赵宁 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.
IES Abroad Staff
Louis VonStudent Affairs Coordinator
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.