Language Immersion and Cultural Engagement

As every foreign language speaker knows, learning a language takes practice, and lots of it. But it is not always easy to do so outside the classroom, or to engage with native speakers about their culture and perspectives.

NYU Shanghai’s new Summer Chinese Language Immersion program gives undergraduate students the chance to do just that by improving their Chinese language in an intimate and immersive learning and living environment, while also engaging with local Shanghai residents and earning academic credit.

Over the course of nine weeks, students from NYU Shanghai as well as from NYU campuses in New York and Abu Dhabi, will be able improve  their Chinese fluency through daily classes, cultural activities and immersion, along side other students from other accredited U.S. and foreign universities who have been studying Chinese for at least one year.

“The two key words here are: intensive and immersive,” said Jie Yuan, Instructor of Chinese Language at NYU Shanghai, who cautions that the program is only for the truly committed. For the nine weeks of the course, which this year runs from May 31 to July 28, students are challenged to abandon using English, and take on a pledge to speak only Chinese, from the classroom to their dorms.

With classes five mornings a week catering to both intermediate and advanced levels, language practicum activities, culture classes and research projects, students will also benefit from one-on-one learning with instructors. Weekday afternoons may be spent learning Chinese Tai Chi, calligraphy, cooking among other activities. In June, the group will visit Beijing for a few days, where they will have instructor-led cultural and language immersive activities.

In addition to building language competency, the program also puts a unique emphasis on cross-cultural communication, self-learning, and critical thinking. Students in the NYU Shanghai program will get to experience  a ‘home day’ with a local family, joining them in their daily activities. The program also includes a Speaker Series with local guests sharing different perspectives on life in Shanghai and China.

“We stand apart from other programs by connecting students with authentic Shanghai life and the many  people who  make up this city,” says Yuan, “Students will gain a better appreciation of the hopes, dreams and challenges of the people they may pass by on the street but otherwise not get to know--from a young person who quit their job to start a local business, migrant workers who are looking out for their families, parents nervous for their child’s Gaokao exam, or expatriates looking for a place to relocate.”

These interactions provide real life situations in which  students will get to use their language skills  in everyday situations and get to know  Chinese culture.

“The objective is to get students out of their comfort zone and show them they are capable of directly using what they’ve learned in class,” said Yuan.


NYU Shanghai students interested in taking the summer immersion course should contact the Chinese department to find out if they are suitable for the program. Students from other campuses and universities should apply for the program here.

For more information visit the NYU Shanghai Chinese Language Summer Immersion Program page or email

NYU Shanghai also offers 4-credit Intensive Chinese Language courses over the summer. Find out more here.