In addition to regular contact hours in class, students can practice speaking Chinese for 15 minutes every week with the Chinese instructors at individual conversation sessions. While the conversation topics generally focus on the contents of current lessons, they are also individualized, which allows students to talk about things relevant to themselves and expressing their own opinion. The conversation session is mandatory for elementary and intermediate level students, but is also strongly recommended for those at the advanced levels, at least once biweekly. Students may sign up every week with different instructors during their office hours or by special appointments.
Chinese Table is a conversation activity at dinnertime held weekly in the Thorne Dining Commons, Hutchinson Room every Tuesday from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. It is an excellent opportunity for students to practice speaking Chinese in a casual and friendly environment. At the Chinese Table, students can have free conversations with anyone and talk about anything in Chinese. In addition, they can make friends, and meet other Chinese-speakers, including teachers, students, or people from the local community. Attendance is required for students beyond the Chinese 101 level, but also encouraged for those who are taking Chinese 101. Please contact Suzanne Astolfi if you are interested but not enrolled in any Chinese courses.
China Night is an annual cultural and performance event that creates a stage for students of Chinese to demonstrate their language skills and artistic talents. Students as well as people from the local community sing Chinese songs, perform Chinese folk dances, xiàngsheng (“cross-talk” – a Chinese comic dialogue), skits, and martial art, etc. A number of shows organized in the past also featured traditional Chinese music by professional musicians from Boston. This special evening draws large audiences from campus and local communities each year.
Each year, activities are organized to celebrate traditional Chinese festivals such as the Chinese New Year (also known as the “Spring Festival” - , the Lantern Festival
(), the Moon Festival (“Mid-Autumn Festival” - ), and the Dragon Boat Festival , etc. Teachers and students taste various food for different festivals, share the tales and legends regarding the festivals, and decorate the house of the Asian Studies Program. Students are also welcome to join the activities organized by the Chinese and American Friendship Association of Maine (cafammaine.org) during these occasions in Portland, Maine.