For more than a decade, Hong Gang Jin, the William R. Kenan Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures, has administered the Associated Colleges in China (ACC), an intensive year-long Chinese language program hosted by Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing. The ACC, long considered one of the best study-abroad programs in China, has enabled more than 1,000 students to become linguistically and culturally proficient in Mandarin Chinese. Even as the standard year-long ACC program continues to grow, Jin has created new opportunities for students who have completed a study-abroad program and for K-12 teachers of Chinese.
In 2007, she was awarded an $80,000 grant from the Department of Education's Fulbright-Hayes Group Projects Abroad program to pilot a post-study-abroad initiative. Building on the success of that pilot, she applied for two additional grants, one to the same Department of Education program and one to the Henry Luce Foundation. She has been awarded both — a four-year, $944,700 grant from the Fulbright-Hayes program and a three-year $300,000 grant from the Luce Foundation.
Jin's primary concern with the new post-study-abroad initiative is to make it possible for students to retain and expand upon what they learned during their initial study-abroad experiences.
"While most study-abroad programs do an excellent job training students to become fluent Mandarin Chinese language speakers, we are finding that students suffer a serious language loss and are having a difficult time maintaining and improving their Chinese language skills upon returning to the U.S.," she said. "Students have limited opportunities to speak Chinese at home, and without regular use, their language skills deteriorate." The first cohort of field studies students completed the post-study-abroad program last summer. The students reported that the program was excellent and eye-opening. Moreover, an expert in language acquisition hired to evaluate the program found that all students achieved significant advances in language development.