San Francisco High School of the Arts

Chinese Language & Culture

The first three levels in the course sequence, Chinese I-III, focus on building students’ vocabulary as well as key skills in speaking listening. Reading comprehension and writing abilities are refined through interpreting and responding to classical Chinese texts and poetry. Chinese IV-VI are honors courses for advanced Chinese learners and native speakers, that focus on reading complex literary works and extensive writing tasks.

Course Description

  • Chinese I
  • Chinese II

Grades Offered: 9, 10, 11, 12

Prerequisites: None

UC Approved: Yes

This course is designed for students with little or no background in Chinese. In Chinese I, students will learn the four tones and pronunciation of Mandarin Chinese and speak in complete sentences, learn Chinese romanization (pinyin), decipher Chinese written character structure and memorize stroke order, accumulate everyday vocabulary, and gain knowledge of famous Chinese legends and historical characters. By the end of the course, students will be expected to recognize at least 500 Chinese words and be able to write in complete sentences.

Grades Offered: 9, 10, 11, 12

Prerequisites: Chinese I or equivalent

UC Approved: Yes

In Chinese II, students will continue developing their Chinese speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. They will engage in real-life conversations with Chinese speakers in local communities, learn to write coherent and well-organized short essays on assigned prompts, and give oral presentations completely in Chinese. They will also study and analyze Tang dynasty poetry and give dramatic readings on selected poems.

  • Chinese III
  • Chinese IV

Grades Offered: 9, 10, 11, 12

Prerequisites: Chinese II or equivalent

UC Approved: Yes

In their third year of Chinese, students will continue advancing their language skills. They will also study excerpts from the Tao Te Ching, Li Ji, San Zi Jing, and The Art of War, and construct analytical responses in 300- to 500- word essays. Students will come to understand the geography and cultural importance of the modern Sinophone world and write a 3- to 5-page research report on a Chinese city and its historical and geographical significance.

Grades Offered: 12

Prerequisites: Honors Chinese V or equivalent proficiency

UC Approved: Yes

Chinese VI is a rigorous course administered as a history course taught entirely in Chinese.

  • Chinese IV
  • Chinese V

Grades Offered: 10, 11, 12

Prerequisites: AP Chinese or equivalent proficiency

UC Approved: Yes

Chinese IV focuses on the artistic and literary heritage of ancient China. In this class, students will learn about the origins, development, and principles of Chinese dance, music, apparel, visual arts, architecture, and literature. They will study excerpts from famous Chinese literary works including Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Peach Blossom Spring, and Journey to the West, and write a 1500-word expository essay on the themes and motifs in a classic Chinese novel.

Grades Offered: 11, 12

Prerequisites: Honors Chinese IV or equivalent proficiency

UC Approved: Yes

In Chinese V, students will continue to develop their analytical skills across a variety of literary styles, allowing students to study and compare fiction and nonfiction, premodern and modern, and native and translated works in Chinese. They will accumulate an expansive Chinese academic vocabulary and gain working knowledge of Chinese proverbs and idioms; study poetry and prose; conduct debates on real-world and philosophical questions; study translated works; independently compose poetry and give a multimedia presentation to showcase their work; and finally, they will write a 1500-word persuasive essay on a contemporary issue.

  • AP & Honors


See AP & Honors Course Offerings in World Languages and Culture

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