Chinese Program

Why Study Chinese?

Chinese Garden 2

First, Chinese is spoken by over 1.2 billion people, making it the most widely spoken language in the world!

Second, China plays a major role in world affairs. As China has opened up to the West, there are growing opportunities for employment in all areas. So China is important for your career.

Third, traditional Chinese culture, from Confucianism and Chan Buddhism to martial arts and Chinese cuisine, has an enormous influence on East and Southeast Asian nations. Chinese culture has also greatly inspired the western world.

Fourth, learning Chinese is an extraordinary and agreeable experience through which you can immerse yourself in a different culture. Unlike most languages, Chinese has a unique ideographic writing system, which provides visual comprehensibility. The grammatical structure of Chinese is not only logical, but also pragmatic, related to the particular way of Chinese thinking. Knowledge of the written language opens up the culture of one of the world's oldest civilizations.

Last, but not the least, our University has one of the largest and most established Chinese language programs in North America. Our quality Chinese language education enjoys strong support from well-developed China studies programs and resources on the campus and, in turn, provides our students with a solid foundation in Chinese language and culture.  

Chinese Language Program Faculty

Wei Liu, Program Director

        Laura Grande            

        Karen Gu  

        Jinyi Li 

        Qian Liu

        Yan Wang

        Haiqing Yin  

        Qiuli Zhao 

        Yan Zhong

Chinese Language Exam Information

The Chinese placement test serves both “place-in” and “place-out” purposes. It has two sections: written and oral. The time limit for the written part is 90 minutes, while the oral part usually takes 20 minutes.

The written test consists of three parts:
•        English-Chinese translation (for all levels)
•        Reading comprehension (for first, second, and third-year levels)
•        Short Essay (for fourth-year level only)

Most tests are computer-delivered. At the beginning of the test, you are required to choose the target level you would like to be placed into or to choose “place-out” if you want to be tested out of a language requirement. You need to bring a pencil and UM ID for both the paper-and-pencil test and the computer-delivered test.

We provide both simplified and traditional character versions and you may write either version in the test. This exam is for evaluating your current Chinese language proficiency level, so you don’t need to do any special preparation for the test.  

We make every effort to inform students taking the paper-and-pencil test of the results on the spot, while students taking the computer-delivered test will be notified via email within one week. For students who take the test for the purpose of “place-out,”  the test results will be recorded on your Wolverine Access student record and be visible to your School/College administrators within 3 business days of your score notification. Please contact your School/College general Academic Advising Office for issues regarding a language requirement, waiver of credits, etc.  

Please note that placement does not guarantee a space in the class. Therefore, you are strongly advised to contact the relevant instructor for an override.

A placement result is valid for one year. You cannot retake the test within a 4 month period.

At the present time, we do not provide the HSK test, nor does UM accept HSK and AP scores.

For information about upcoming test dates and registration, visit the Placement and Proficiency Tests page.

Chinese Textbooks and Software in Use

Click here for a comprehensive list of the Chinese textbooks used in ALC course.



The Chinese Language Program has partnered with Clavis Sinica to offer customized Chinese learning software to students in Chinese language classes at the University of Michigan. In First- and Second-Year Chinese, students use a mobile app called the "Xiezi Chinese Character Trainer" to help them learn to write the characters introduced in each textbook lesson. Second- and Third-Year students have access to a web-based Audiotext Reader applet that helps them develop their Chinese reading, speaking, and oral comprehension skills while studying assigned reading passages from each textbook unit. All of these software resources are available to UM students at