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The Chinese Language

Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken first language in the world, boasting almost 900 million native speakers and over a billion speakers in total! Dating back thousands of years, the Chinese language reflects a rich history of cultural traditions and encompasses a vast diversity of people, places, and perspectives. The Chinese language itself is various, featuring many mutually unintelligible regional dialects and variations, although Mandarin has been adopted as a de facto standard.

It's easy to see why Chinese is in such high demand, with booming economies all over the world in locations such as Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and of course China, all featuring Mandarin Chinese as a key component. As technology continues to connect the East and the West, more Americans are learning Chinese in order to engage effectively in the global marketplace and pursue international careers in diverse fields such as archaeology, finance, sociology, and medicine. The CLS Program teaches students Mandarin Chinese, while providing opportunities for students to engage with China's diverse local culture.

Program Sites

The CLS Program has suspended all summer language institutes for 2020.


Previous Institutes

Featured Alumni Profiles

Aaron Yang
Chinese 2017
Changchun, China
Olivia Moffett
Chinese 2018
Xi'an, China
Mahli Knutson
Japanese 2018
Hikone, Japan

Chinese Stories

Announcing Selection for the 2020 CLS Program

The CLS Program is pleased to announce the results of its 2020 summer competition. Congratulations to all the finalists and alternates who participated in the application for the CLS Program this summer.

Finalists for the 2020 CLS Program were selected from a diverse pool of nearly 5,000...

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Posted February 27, 2020


Noah Lerner

Noah participated in the CLS advanced Chinese program in Guangzhou in the summer of 2014 after his sophomore year at Amherst College. Even after living in China for a year prior, the CLS Program had a great impact on advancing his Chinese language proficiency. After returning to the United...

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Posted January 30, 2020


Rena Wang

“Language is so much more than the ability to communicate. It’s the ability to understand the thoughts, values and culture of others. Language overcomes barriers, opens up our minds to new perspectives and allows us to empathize and realize our shared humanity.”

Rena uses Chinese every...

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Posted November 26, 2019