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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

Program sites will be announced in the spring.

Previous Institutes

Featured Alumni Profiles

Caitlyn Carpio
Chinese 2016
Suzhou, China
Jamal Russell Black
Chinese 2016
Suzhou, China
Mahli Knutson
Japanese 2018
Hikone, Japan

Chinese Stories

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

Jamal Russell Black

Jamal Russell Black was a CLS participant in 2016 in China, and is now the CEO and Head Researcher at Veridian Analytics in San Diego, California. His goal was always to work in international and economic development, and during his undergraduate program it became apparent to Jamal that...

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Posted October 01, 2019

Announcing the 2020 CLS Application - Now Open!

We are pleased to announce that the application for the 2020 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is now open! American undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to apply now to learn a critical foreign language next summer on a fully-funded study abroad program.


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Posted September 12, 2019