This fall, for the first time ever, NIC will offer Chinese language courses, giving Comox Valley residents access to the most widely-spoken language on the planet.

Two Chinese-Mandarin courses join Spanish and French as international languages available at NIC, giving residents the ability to conduct business effectively, travel confidently and bridge cultural barriers.

“Comox Valley students will now have the opportunity to become more culturally and internationally literate in a language spoken by more people as a native language than any other in the world,” said Mark Herringer, NIC’s Director of International Education.

NIC’s Spanish and French courses are already popular with business, tourism and humanities students, local residents, and international travellers. Given the influence of China globally, it makes sense there would also be significant demand for Chinese courses offered at NIC.

Mandarin is one of the most important languages on the West Coast and China has a growing economic and social influence in B.C. Since Beijing granted Canada Approved Destination Status in 2009, the number of Chinese visitors coming to B.C. has risen dramatically. In July 2014, the Business Council of British Columbia announced China has become BC’s second largest international tourism market, behind only the United States.

Locally, students and community groups in the NIC service region are becoming more engaged in international trade and in cultural exchange with China. One of those opportunities is the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program, which awards generous scholarships to students interested in studying at participating Chinese institutions.

“As our students get more involved in a global work and social environment, they need more skills to be effective,” Herringer said. “This is just one of the tools students can use to become more culturally, socially, and economically active.”

NIC will offer two levels of instruction. CHN-101, Introduction to Chinese 1, starts in September and is designed for beginners. Students will be able to engage in basic daily conversations such as introducing themselves, make phone calls, and write short notes in Chinese. There are no course prerequisites.

CHN-102, Introduction to Chinese 2, starts in January. It follows up on learning in CHN-101, introduces more Chinese expressions and grammar as well as approximately 200 Chinese characters in simplified form. Students will be able to engage in conversations in various topics and write longer paragraphs in Chinese by the end of the semester.

Both courses are available individually to the community and as part of NIC’s University Transfer program. Seniors may also register for these courses tuition free, as part of NIC’s senior tuition benefit.

University of Waterloo language instructor Qingzhen (June) Deng, who taught at Vancouver Island University, designed the courses for NIC.

For more information on NIC programs visit www.nic.bc.ca

(North Island College)