School of Foreign Languages
The origin of the School of Foreign Languages at Peking University goes back to Jingshi Tongwenguan (Capital House of Foreign Languages), which was set up in 1862 to train experts in foreign languages for the Qing government. In their memorial to the throne, Yi Xin, Prince Gong, and his fellow officials stated that the intention of setting up Jingshi Tongwenguan was to master foreign languages so as to avoid being deceived by other countries. The Qing government -- while being forced to open up -- chose to develop the navy and education as the countermeasures, and so Jingshi Tongwenguan was the first modern university to be set up as a result of the new governmental policy.
Jingshi Tongwenguan offered courses in English (1862), French (1863), Russian (1863), German (1871) and Japanese (1897). Suggested by officials in the Qing government who saw the significance of science, courses in astronomy, mathematics, physics and chemistry have been offered since 1867. In addition, courses in international law also became available. Thus the courses fell into three categories: foreign language, science, and law. Those three were considered the most important instruments for China to empower itself during that era. Among the 110 teachers, there were 27 foreigners, most of whom were language teachers and were the first foreign teachers at a Chinese university.
In 1898, Jingshi Daxuetang (Capital University), which later became Peking University), was set up and offered courses in English, French, German, Russian, and Japanese but was closed briefly in 1900. In 1902, shortly after being reopened, Jingshi Daxuetang merged with Jingshi Tongwenguan and was renamed Yixueguan (House of Translation) the next year. Thus the two predecessors of the School of Foreign Languages at Peking University were combined.
In 1919, Peking University restructured the courses into 13 departments, including the Departments of English literature, French Literature, and German Literature. The Department of Russian Literature was founded in 1920. Foreign language departments took up 4 out of the total 18 departments of the university. In 1924, the Department of Oriental Literature was founded with Zhou Zuoren as the dean, but Japanese was the only language at that time. The Department of Russian Literature was later dismissed and the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature later set up in 1931 consisting of English, French, German and Japanese; this structure was kept throughout the National Southwest Associated University period.
For many years, the foreign language and literature discipline at Peking University has prioritized western languages and literature, offering majors in English, French, German, Russian, and courses in Latin, and Ancient Greek. Peking University also stresses the significance of oriental languages and literature. Since 1919, courses in Sanskrit were also offered. It wasn't until 1946 when Mr. Ji Xianlin came back from Germany that the Department of Oriental Languages and Literature began to offer multiple oriental languages. At the beginning, the department had 6 teachers and offered courses in Sanskrit, Arabic, Mongolian, and Tibetan. Since then, the Oriental disciplines of Peking University has developed by leaps and bounds.
When the Department of Oriental Languages and Literature was set up, the remaining portion of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature was restructured into the Department of Western Languages and Literature. After the People’s Republic of China was founded, the Department of Oriental Languages and Literature progressed rapidly and saw a significant increase in the number of teachers and students. In June 1949, the teachers at Nanjing Junior College of Oriental Languages and the Department of Politics of Border Areas at Central University were repositioned into the Department of Oriental Languages and Literature of Peking University. Before the reconfiguration of the universities and colleges in Beijing and Tianjin areas, the Department of Oriental Languages and Literature had 50 teachers and about 500 students of 12 languages, and was the biggest department in Peking University.
The 1952 reconfiguration formed the departments of Western Languages and Literature, Russian Language and Literature, and Oriental Languages and Literature. The Department of Western Languages and Literature included English, French, and German, and had 95 teachers from Peking University, Tsinghua Univeristy, Yanjing University, Fu Jen Catholic University, and Normal University. The Department of Russian Language and Literature had 22 teachers from Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Yanjing University. Tibetan, Uyghur, and the languages of southwest ethnic minorities were reallocated to Central Institute for Nationalities, and Mongolian, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Siamese, Indonesian, Burmese, Hindi, and Arabic were kept in the Department of Oriental Languages and Literature, which had 42 teachers.
This structure was kept until 1983, when the Department of English was set up. Currently, the School of Foreign Languages consists of the departments of English, Oriental Languages and Literature, Western Languages, and Russian.
The School of Foreign Languages was set up in June 1999, combining the departments of English Language and Literature, Oriental Languages and Literature, Western Languages and Literature, and Russian Language and Literature. Currently, there are 15 departments, institutes and centers, including the Departments of English Language and Culture, Russian Language and Culture, French Language and Culture, German Language and Culture, Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures, Arabic Language and Cultures, Japanese Language and Culture, South Asian Languages and Cultures, Southeast Asian Cultural Studies, West Asian Languages and Cultures, Korean Language and Culture, African and Asian Languages and Cultures, the Institutes of Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics and World Literature, and the MTI Center. There are 20 language majors in which undergraduates may enroll, including English, Russian, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, Mongolian, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, Indonesian, Pilipino, Hindi, Sanskrit and Pali, Urdu, Persian, and Hebrew. The School of Foreign Languages has also offered courses in Latin, Malay, Bengali, Pahlavi, Akkadian, Sumerian, Hittite, Aramaic, and Tibetan. Studies in Old Icelandic, Syriac, Biblical Hebrew, Tocharian, Georgian, and Khotanese are being conducted and courses in Old Icelandic and Georgian will be offered soon. The number of language courses and studies is on a steady rise.
The School of Foreign Languages has one primary discipline, ten secondary disciplines, doctoral programs and one distance postdoctoral center.
The Institute of Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistic enrolls master and doctoral candidates; the Institute of World Literature and the MTI Center only enroll master candidates. Other departments enroll undergraduates, master and doctoral candidates. There are over 1,200 students, including over 800 undergraduates, 300 master candidates, and over 100 PhD candidates.
English Language and Literature and Indian Language and Literature are national key disciplines; Asian African Languages and Literature is also a discipline with national special support. The School of Foreign Languages is home to the Oriental Literature Studies Center, which was appointed by the Ministry of Education as the humanities and social sciences research bases, the national training base for undergraduates of less widely used foreign languages, and four featured majors, namely Arabic, Spanish, South Asian languages, and East and West Asian languages. It runs many academic journals such as Foreign Literature, South Asia Studies (jointly), Linguistic Studies, Oriental Studies and Japanese Language and Culture Studies, of which the first two are national Chinese core periodicals. There are 28 virtual institutes and academic groups, including the Institute of European and American Literature, Oriental Studies, English Language and Literature, English Education, Australia Studies, New Zealand Studies, French Language and Cultures, Canada Studies, Spanish Studies, Brazil Studies, Russian Culture Studies, Iran Studies, India Studies, Pakistan Studies, Thailand Studies, Arabic and Islamic Culture Studies, Mongolia Studies, South Asian Culture Studies, Japanese Culture Studies, Korean Studies, Southeast Asia Studies, Indonesian-Malaysian Culture Studies, Sanskrit Manuscripts and Buddhist Literature Research, Ancient Oriental Civilization Studies, Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Foreign Drama and Movie Studies, Centers of World Auto/Biography Research, and Middle Ages Studies.
Currently, the School of Foreign Languages has 228 teachers (55 professors, 94 associate professors, and 76 lecturers), 125 of whom have PhD degrees and take up 55% of the total. The number of administration faculty is 32. Prof. Shen Dan is the only professor of the Cheung Kong Scholar Program in the field of foreign languages and literature in the country; Prof. Ji Xianlin, Prof. Hu Zuanglin, and Prof. Liu Anwu are senior professors of liberal arts; Xie Zhirong is the chair professor of PKU-Sultan Qaboos Arabic Studies. The mix of teaching faculty is diversified with numerous doctors graduated from famous universities all over the world and an increasing amount of international teachers.
The School of Foreign Languages has a Simultaneous Interpretation classroom and a satellite TV system that receives 25 programs in 16 languages. The library has over 210,000 books in 21 languages, including over 165,000 books in foreign languages, over 28,000 books in Chinese, 315 kinds of foreign newspapers and periodicals, and 133 kinds of Chinese newspapers and periodicals. To preserve the research achievements of teachers and alumni and enrich the collection, within the library the alumni collection was built and now has 2,207 academic works, translated books, and essay collections. There are over 7000 tapes, videotapes, and CDs in nearly 20 languages, and videos of academic lectures, reports, and conferences in the video room.
The history of foreign languages and literature is illuminated by numerous distinguished and established scholars. From the early 1900s to 1949, there were Chen Hengzhe, Chen Kui, Chen Qinren, Chen Yuan, Gu Hongming, Gu Mengyu, Hu Shi, Kuai Shuping, Ling Shiqiu, Liang Zongdai, Lin Yutang, Luo Chang, Luo Niansheng, Qian Daosun, Sun Dayu, Wang Wenxian, Wen Yuanning, Xu Zhimo, Xu Zuzheng, Yan Boxun, Yang Yinqing, Yang Zhenwen, Yang Zonghan, Ye Gongchao, Yu Dafu, Zhang Xinhai, Zhou Zuoren, and others. During the National Southwest Associated University period, there were Chen Jia, Liu Wuji, Qian Zhongshu, Wu Mi, and others. Many established scholars had worked at Peking Unversity since the People’s Republic of China was founded, such as Bianzhilin, Cao Jinghua, Chen Zhanyuan, Feng Zhi, Ji Xianlin, Jin Kemu, Li Funing, Ma Jian, Pan Jiaxun, Tian Dewang, Wen Jiasi, Wu Dayuan, Yang Yezhi, Yang Zhouhan, Yu Dayin, Zhao Luorui, Zhao Zhaoxiong, Zhu Gungqian, and others.
The 1952 reconfiguration strengthened the teaching capacity of the school. Since the beginning of reform and opening up, especially since the 1993 Outline for Reform and Development of Education in China and the 1998 Chinese Action Scheme For Invigorating Education towards the 21st Century, the teaching capacity has seen unprecedented opportunities and the competence of the teaching and research team has been greatly enhanced.
The School of Foreign Languages' teaching faculty holds impressive scope with their teaching and researching ability. Among the total 228 teachers, 55 are professors (42 are doctoral advisors), taking up 24% of the total; 94 are associate professors (1 are doctoral advisors), making up 41%；76 are lecturers, comprising 33%; and 3 are teaching assistants, around 1%. Up to 40% of the professors are below 50 years old and 65% of the associate professors are below 45 years old. 125 teachers have PhD degrees and take up 55% of the total. There are 32 administrative faculties. The department of English has adopted a new system of Doctoral candidate education, which canceled the title of doctoral advisor and allows any certificated teacher with a PhD to advise doctoral candidates.
Faculty (as of Junl 2010)
Prof. Ji Xianlin, Prof. Hu Zuanglin, and Prof. Liu Anwu are the senior professors of liberal arts; Prof. Shen Dan is the only professor of the Cheung Kong Scholar Program in the field of foreign languages and literature in the country and enjoys the honor of Trans-Century Talent of the Ministry of Education. Led by Prof. Shen Dan, the young scholars in the Cheung Kong Scholar Program research team are committing to in-depth studies of English language and literature. The Institute of European and American Literature Studies, with Prof. Shen Dan as director, pools a group of western literature scholars, and has made impressive achievements in the study of western languages and literature.
In the field of Oriental studies, Prof. Wang Bangwei enjoys the honor of the National Young and Middle-Aged Experts with Outstanding Contributions and the Trans-Century Talents of the Ministry of Education. The Center of Oriental Studies at Peking University, directed by Prof. Wang Bangwei, is one of the National Key Research University Institutes of Humanities and Social Sciences; The Center of Oriental Studies, with Prof. Wang Bangwei as president, is of great importance in China’s oriental studies. The two centers pool the wisdom of researchers and scholars both at home and abroad, who carry on the outstanding traditions formed by senior scholars like Prof. Ji Xianlin, and strive to build new milestones.
The PKU-Sultan Qaboos Arabic Studies Chair has an excellent team for Arabic language, literature, and culture research, including Chair Prof. Xie Zhiron, Prof. Fu Zhiming, Prof. Li Shengjun, Prof. Lin Fengmin, Prof. Wu Bingbing, and other outstanding young scholars.
The School of Foreign Languages stresses the building of teaching faculty institutions and follows strictly the university’s recruitment provisions. The school recruits scholars with the highest degrees in their disciplines and diversifies the making of teaching faculty. The average age of the teaching faculty continues to decline while the degree level and research level rises. Among young and middle-aged teachers, there are a group of teaching and research elites. For example, Wang Jian in the Department of German Language and Literature, Su Gengxin in the Department of English Language and Literature, Jin Xun in the Department of Japanese Language and Literature, Cheng Ganglong in the department of Asian African Language and Literature, and Chen Ming in the Department of Indian Language and Literature; they are supported by the Program for New Century Talents in the University through the Ministry of Education. These teachers are dedicated in teaching, research, and administration, and many of them have won great honors. For example, Prof. Zhao Zhenjiang in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literature won the National Teacher of Excellence award, and Prof. Zhao Yulan in the Department of Asian African Language and Literature won the Beijing Teacher of Excellence award.
The role of foreign experts in teaching and research should also be highlighted. From February 2004 to February 2008, there were 142 foreign experts with long-term contracts and 105 short-term visiting experts. In addition, the School of Foreign Languages also hires internationally established scholars as visiting professors. For example, Hillis Miller and David Jeffery, visiting scholars in the Department of English, contributed significantly to teaching and academic development. The School of Foreign Languages was awarded the honor of Outstanding Group in Attracting Foreign Talent in the 10th Five-Year Plan Period by the State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs.
The School of Foreign Languages is diversifying its teaching faculty by recruiting Chinese scholars who receive PhDs from domestic and foreign top-level universities. There are dozens of doctors who have graduated from top-level universities in Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Russia, Spain, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Iran, and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the School of Foreign Languages is offering permanent positions with citizen treatment to foreign teachers. With the help of rigorous institutions, the teaching faculty will become more diversified and internationalized and is continually becoming a highly competent foreign language and literature teaching and studying team.
There are 20 language majors that enroll undergraduates, including English, Russian, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, Mongolian, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, Indonesian, Pilipino, Hindi, Sanskrit and Pali, Urdu, Persian, and Hebrew. The School of Foreign Languages has one primary discipline doctoral program in Foreign Language and Literature, and ten secondary discipline doctoral programs, including English Language and Literature, Indian Language and Literature, Asian African Language and Literature, French Language and Literature, German Language and Literature, Russian Language and Literature, Spanish Language and Literature, Japanese Language and Literature, Arabic Language and Literature, and Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics. The secondary discipline doctoral programs enroll both doctoral and master students. In addition, the major of world literature enrolls master students. There is also an MTI program and a distance postdoctoral center that enrolls numerous postdoctoral students every year.
The educational goal of the School of Foreign Languages, set in accordance to that of Peking University as a research-oriented comprehensive university, is to enable students to master a foreign language with excellent listening, speaking, reading, writing, and translating competence, a second foreign language skillfully, and good knowledge of the literature, history, culture, politics, and economy of the target language country or region; to have strong trans-cultural communication ability and meet the requirements of various fields, such as diplomacy, international cultural exchange, international business management, journalism, publication, foreign language teaching, and foreign country studies; and to become talents with a strong sense of social responsibility and international vision. After receiving rigorous training, the students should have the potential of becoming competent talents in their professions and reach the leading edge of various industries or disciplines.
To this end, the School of Foreign Languages formed a holistic concept of education. It makes the most of multi-disciplinary resources and advantages of the university in benefit for undergraduate language majors. It strengthens key basic major courses while increasing featured courses and optional courses. It also encourages students to take courses for general education. In addition, according to the specific conditions of the language majors and students’ interests as well as the university’s provisions, it approves students’ applications for taking double majors or minors. It strives to see students becoming foreign language talents with an excellent sense of the humanities, originality, and a rich knowledge in multi-disciplines.
The School of Foreign Languages offers numerous courses. For example, in the 2005-2006 Fall semester, the following courses were offered: 224 foreign language major courses, including 111 compulsory major courses and 76 optional major courses; 8 courses for general education with 937 registered students; 23 minor courses with 312 minor students taking French, German, Spanish, and Japanese; 5 research courses; 5 summer school course (July-August 2006); as well as numerous college English courses with 5,419 registered students.
In 2004, the Project of Internet-Supported College English Teaching and the Reform of Intensive Reading for 1st and 2nd Year English Majors of the Department of English, the Advanced Japanese Intensive Reading (1-3) in the Department of Japanese, and the Reform of Beginning Level Russian Teaching in the Department of Russian won the second prize at the Beijing Teaching Achievement Awards. In 2005, College English was selected as the National Course of Excellence.
The School of Foreign Languages offers 30 key basic courses at the university, including: English Intensive Reading, Chinese English Translation, English Writing, General Linguistics, History of British Literature and Selective Reading, History of American Literature and Selective Reading, Basic Russian, Russian Literature and Selective Reading, German Intensive Reading, History of German Literature and Selective Reading, French Intensive Reading, French Literature and Culture, Spanish Intensive Reading, Spanish and Latin-American Literature and Culture, Basic Arabic, Arabic-Islamic Culture, Basic Japanese, Japanese Literature and Culture, Basic Korean, Korean Culture, Basic Persian, Basic Pilipino, Basic Indonesian, Basic Hindi, Basic Burmese, Basic Mongolian, Basic Thai, Basic Urdu, Basic Hebrew, and Basic Vietnamese.
The School of Foreign Languages also offers 34 courses for general education for the whole university, including: General Introduction to Oriental Religions, History of Oriental Literature, Oriental Culture, Ancient Near East Civilization, Ancient Oriental Science and Technology, General Introduction to Bible and Selective Reading, Chinese and Western Culture Comparison, General Introduction to Western Academic Essence, 20th Century Western Literal Theory, Introduction to Western Culture, Movies and 20th Century Foreign Literature, Indian Religions, History of China and Japan Cultural Communication, Japanese Culture and Arts, Arabic Literature, Culture and the World, Arabic and Islamic Culture, Islamic Arts and Aesthetics, Introduction to American Studies, China’s Human Geography around Late Qing Dynasty and Early Republic of China, Auto/Biography Literature, Studies of Figures in Modern History; History of Russian Arts, Brazilian Culture, Australian Society and Culture, Appreciation of Shakespeare’s Drama, General Introduction to Western Languages, Literature, and Culture, English and Chinese Comparative Studies, English to Chinese Translation, Advanced English Reading, Advanced English Reading and Writing, American English Pronunciation, Advanced English Listening, Applied and Creative English Writing, Guided Reading of 20th Century European and American Poems, and Selective Reading of Famous British and American Poems.
The College English section in the Department of English offers English courses to 4500-5500 non-English major students per semester. The School of Foreign Languages also offers minor courses to undergraduates, including Japanese, French, German, and Spanish. Every semester, the School of Foreign Languages offers various optional courses to all students, including College French, College German, College Russian, and College Japanese. Some other courses are offered non-periodically, such as Arabic, Portuguese, Indonesian, Hindi, Vietnamese, Persian, Bengali, Latin, and Sanskrit.
The international teachers of the School of Foreign Languages offer many featured courses. For instance, the Philippines' teacher Jenneth Candor directed the famous Philippines historical poems Lam-ang and Florante at Laura, performed by the students, which improved the students’ language competence and understanding of the culture. Joseph Graves, an American professional theatrical director, actor and play writer, has offered English Drama Practice in the Department of English since 2002 and often invites numerous professional directors, light designers, costume designers, and stage designers to co-teach with him so as to make the students’ performance more professional. This course has developed from being an optional course for only English majors to a college-wide course which all students of the university may enroll. The plays are staged at Peking University Hall and public theaters like the People’s Art Theater, and receive good feedback from the public. This course has performed publicly Shakespeare’s Tempest (2003), American playwright Wilder’s Our Town (2004), American playwright O’neil’s Ah, Wilderness! (2005), Italian drama Deer King (2005), American Musical Fiddler on the Roof (2006), Moliere’s The Imposter (2007), American Drama Big Sur (2007), and Greek drama Madusa (2007). This course combines drama teaching with English teaching, which is a good practice of university humanities education, and is acclaimed by various famous universities in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
The School of Foreign Languages also stresses the importance of international experience for the students. Studying and living in their target language country helps the students to improve their language competence and get first hand experience of that country’s society, history and culture. Studying abroad is part of the educational plan for students. Domestic teachers advise the students on their course selection and the students are required to take the exams and may transfer credits and scores according to relevant provisions. There are various study abroad channels, including government sponsorship, inter-university exchanges, summer school and personal channels.
In order to produce innovative talents and scholars with an international vision in this new century, the School of Foreign Languages has created many favorable conditions for the students to get academic experiences abroad through various channels. In the 2006-2007 academic year, 53 students received sponsorship from China Scholarship Council; 16 students participated in inter-university exchanges; and 22 students went to target language countries for academic conferences or goodwill activities through other channels. This took up 52% of the total students enrolled in the School of Foreign Languages. Below are some of the international exchanges programs:
Since 2003, the Department of English has conducted undergraduate exchanges with Davidson College in the United States and sent students to the Davidson College to take English courses and teach Chinese courses. Beyond enjoying the academic influence and improving their work competence, all exchange students went to graduate school after their graduation. According to the inter-university exchange and cooperation agreement among Peking University, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, and Universite de Lausanne, the Department of French sent abroad 8 junior students every year for exchange. The 2006 China Scholarship Council overseas investigation and research found that the performance and Spanish competence of the 10 exchange students (9 undergraduates) sent by the School of Foreign Languages to Cuba was highly impressive. The Department of Japanese also sent outstanding students abroad. In addition, since 1992, it has consistently invited the students of Bunkyo University for two weeks of teaching practice for Chinese freshmen, in which those Japanese students also participated in cultural communication with Chinese students. Such activities allow Chinese students to enhance their Japanese level and facilitate cultural exchanges and are well received by students of the two countries. So far, the two sides have held two international seminars related to teaching pedagogy at Peking University. Since 2002, various languages in the Department of Oriental Language and Literature, including Pilipino, Burmese, Urdu, Thai, Vietnamese, and Persian, have taken students to the best universities of their target countries during the summer on tailor-made course programs. In addition to the courses, the programs also included rich investigative activities, which allowed the student abundant time to learn about the target language, society and culture.
The School of Foreign Languages has a rigid system for the development of graduate students. The Department of English has adopted a new doctoral candidate education regime, under which the title of doctoral advisor was removed and in which any teacher with a PhD degree now qualifies for advising doctoral candidates. Other departments have also adopted renovated regimes under which associate professors can now also advise doctoral candidates. The doctoral dissertation A Study on the Construction of the Bilingual WordNet of Liu Yang, a doctoral candidate advised by Prof. Wang Pangxin, and the doctoral dissertation A Study on the Indian Sanskrit Medical Book ‘Essential Principles of Medical Science’ of Chen Ming, another doctoral candidate advised by Prof. Wang Bangwei, were selected as National Doctoral Dissertations of Excellence.
The School of Foreign Languages offers numerous cultural courses with a high proportion of research content in order to develop students’ comprehensive ability to think in foreign languages, in addition to language courses.
The school pays great attention to textbook development. It approved 42 textbook projects in 2001-2003 and 2003-2005, and established 33 textbook projects at the university level during the past three years. The school strives to gather more resources so as to see a greater number of quality textbooks compiled and published, to grow visibility of the school. Since 2004, the School of Foreign Languages compiled and published over 100 kinds of textbooks, among which were Russian Literature History, Linguistics (edited edition), Contemporary Pragmatics, and French I, II which were selected as the Excellent Textbooks in 2004 Beijing Higher Education Project. Eight textbooks were selected as the Excellent Textbooks in 2006 Beijing Higher Education Project, including College English (1－6), General Introduction to Western Literature, Thai (1-4), General Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics, Vietnamese (4), New Oral English (1-4), Comprehensive Japanese (1-4), and Chinese-Korean Translation. Eight textbooks were selected as the best textbooks in 2007 Beijing Higher Education Project, including Comprehensive English, Selective Reading of American poems, Long Frictions in German Literature, Interpretation of Biblical Literature, Western Narratology, Web-Based English Writing, General Introduction to Social Linguistics, and Oriental Folks Literature.
The school will pay consistent attention to the development of textbooks. Currently, 29 textbooks projects have been approved by the 11th Five-Year Plan Period National Higher Education Textbook Plan. (See to the table below)
The research focus of the School of Foreign Languages is foreign languages, literature, and culture. Currently, the school’s research group features reasonable age structure, comprehensive discipline coverage, outstanding leadership, and standardized research management. In addition to research within the different departments and sections, researchers conduct trans-department, trans-major, and trans-school research in collaboration with various academic institutes, form prominent research capability, and have received impressive results.
The School of Foreign Languages conducted 86 projects at the national and provincial level from 1999 to 2006 and many horizontal projects at the same time. Of all the projects, two were the key projects of the National Social Science Foundation. As for the fruits of research, from 1999 to the end of 2006, the school finished 174 works, translated 324 books, edited and compiled 352 textbooks, as well as 90 reference books, 13 study and consulting reports, 17 kinds of audio, video, and software programs, and published 2,305 articles. As for research, the School of Foreign Languages hosted 45 international academic workshops, 41 domestic academic workshops, and every year dozens of teachers attended various international and domestic academic workshops. As for honors and awards, the school won 22 research prizes at the national, provincial and ministry levels and dozens of teachers received honorary titles, medals, awards, and prizes for prominent teaching and research performance.
The researches in foreign languages, literature, and culture is of critical significance in China and is visibly in some international fields, which provides solid foundations and rich resources for offering new courses, and improving teaching and learning quality.
The main research achievements include:
I Europe Literature History (3 volumes)
The newly edited European Literature History, with Mr. Li Funing as chief editor, is a key national philosophical and social science project in the 8th Five-Year Plan Period. It was joined by scholars from Peking University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Foreign Literature Institute at the China Academy of Social Science, with many kinds of professors, scholars from Hong Kong, Taiwan, as well as Chinese scholars living in Europe and the U.S. It represents the highest level in this research field in the 21st century and was accomplished in the 10th Five-Year Plan Period.
The newly compiled European Literature History consists of 3 volumes and four books (2 books in Volume 3) and two million characters. It covers the works from the ancient Greek and Roman period to the 1980s, with the essence of nearly 2,000 years of European literature, and combines historical materials, schools of literature, and an introduction to the authors and works. Guided by historical materialism and presenting rich and reliable resources and innovative perspectives, it can be utilized as academic work, teaching reference, dictionary, and encyclopedia. The analysis of important works and authors are keen and accurate, which is of highly modern, rational, academic, and practical significance.
II The Selected Books of Oriental Cultures
The compiling of The Selected Books of Oriental Cultures was advocated and presided over by Mr. Ji Xianlin and pooled the effort of nationwide orientalists and experts. The purpose is to explore, streamline, study, and carry on traditional oriental cultures in order to restore its legitimate stance in world culture.
It covers the politics, economy, culture, history, ethnics, religion, philosophy, literature, and arts with 500 kinds of publications. It is planned that the China Association of Oriental Culture Studies and the Institute of Oriental Studies at Peking University co-found a compiling committee with the Economic Daily Publishing House is responsible for publishing. Since the project started in 1996, 100 books have been published. The compiling committee is headed by Mr. Ji Xianlin and the teachers of the School of Foreign Languages were responsible for organizing, editing, and compiling the material.
In addition, The Indonesian Literature History written by Liang Liji was published in September 2003 and was awarded the second prize in the 8th Beijing Philosophy and Social Science Awards. This project received extensive attention and acclamation from the experts at home and abroad and was highly recognized by UNESCO officials.
III Peking University Series of Studies on European and American Literature
To carry on the traditions of studying European and American literature at the university and to facilitate it further, the School of Foreign Languages organized the compilation of Peking University Series of Studies on European and American Literature, published by Peking University Publishing House. The series was compiled with an open mindset, which stresses accumulation, seeks innovation and promotes development. The purpose of the series is to demonstrate the achievements and unique perspectives of the Peking University study of European and American literature in this multi-cultural era, to strengthen networking at home and abroad, and to contribute to the intensive and extensive study of European and American literature. The hope is that the series will promote the awareness of the directions, methods, and focuses in the study of European and American literature at the university. Meanwhile, the scholars also review and reflect on their work to better position themselves and their study.
IV Persian Classics Collection
The compilation of Persian Classics Collection, presided over by Prof. Zhang Hongnian and translated partially by teachers of the School of Foreign Languages, is one of the national key books project, to be put together during the 9th and 10th Five-Year Plan Periods. The collection consists of 7 categories and 18 volumes, with 6 million characters and the joined efforts of outstanding talents in the field of Persian language and literature study. This collection was translated and edited based on ancient Persian original works with the English and Russian translated versions were used as reference.
The collection covers the main works of Ferdowsi (940－1020), Molana (1207－1273), Sa’di (1208－1292) and Hafez (1327－1390): the four pillars of Persian literature.
The collection is an all-around reflection of Persian classical literature with many of the works being introduced to China for the first time. It fills a blank in the cultural exchange and academic study, and will facilitate China’s in-depth study of Persian classical literature and the study of Islamic mysticism.
The School of Foreign Languages vigorously builds web-based media and applies modern technology to disseminate teaching and research information. The homepage demonstrates the teaching achievements and patterns and introduces the development of secondary disciplines and undergraduate majors as well as providing enrollment consulting and other services.
The departments in the school also achieved quite a lot through the construction of the website. The website is a national training base for undergraduates of less widely used foreign languages in the Department of Oriental Languages and Literature and effectively serves the needs of teaching through much in-depth material on the site. The website has various modules such as “audio and video”, “news of target language country”, “database”, and “teaching and learning database (FTP)”, and covers various languages such as Thai, Korean, Hindi, Pilipino, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Burmese, Mongolian, Persian, Hebrew, and Urdu, and has the multimedia courseware of 17 courses that students may to use. In the 2006-2007 academic year, the School of Foreign Languages collaborated with the School of Foreign Languages of Guangxi University for Nationalities and offered online Guided Reading of Oriental Classics as an optional course taught by the teachers of the School of Foreign Languages. It was offered to the undergraduate language majors of Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian, Cambodian, Burmese, and Indonesian. To utilize computers, multimedia, the Internet and other modern technology to the utmost, many teachers in the Department of French took part in the “CAI Development for College French” research project at the university and have seen phased progress. Easy French software is available on the homepage of the Department for students to use. The College English Online Teaching Platform complements face-to-face teaching with multimedia and online teaching and has created a favorable learning environment.
The School of Foreign Languages is building various online teaching resources. In the “contemporary foreign literature database (online/CD)” project, which is a national social science key project, the School invested large amounts of technology resources to build the up the study and teaching database of comprehensive foreign literature for the use of the whole society.
Many courses are taught using multi-media courseware. Every teacher hired since 2004 teaches at least one course using multi-media courseware and the trend is prevailing.
The satellite TV system receives 25 programs in 16 languages and provides teachers and students with timely resources. All of the multi-media classrooms and offices are installed with TV systems, which allows real-time viewing and downloading of all satellite TV programs.
The newly built simultaneous interpretation classroom is equipped with the most advanced SI teaching system and provides great technical convenience to the interpretation teaching and learning of various languages and the MTI. The classroom will be integrated with E-databases to better support teaching and research.
Academic and Social Visibility
The School of Foreign Languages enjoys an established academic reputation for its foreign language and literature disciplines and is acknowledged by the societal and academic community both at home and abroad. In 2004 the National Primary Discipline Evaluation, the foreign language and literature discipline at Peking University ranked No. 1 with full marks in every category, namely overall level, academic talents reserve, research, talent education, and academic reputation. In 2008, it won the honor once again.
The teachers of the School of Foreign Languages not only attained impressive achievements in teaching and research, but also made outstanding contributions to international cultural exchanges and won both public recognition and numerous awards.
The teachers of the School of Foreign Languages translated a great amount of foreign academic and literature works, which facilitated Sino-foreign cultural exchanges and was highly acclaimed.
They also commit themselves to social services. In addition to taking positions in domestic and foreign academic organizations, they participate actively in social activities. Professor Shen Dan in the Department of English is delegate of National People’s Congress and member of Overseas Chinese Committee of the NPC; additionally, Associate Professor Zhan Ru in the Department of Oriental Languages and Literature is member of National Committee of CPPCC.
The graduates of the School of Foreign Languages are playing important roles in various industries and professions. A profound humane spirit combined with the systematic and thorough training in foreign languages, literature, and cultures lays solid foundations for all students, empowering them to persistently pursue their ideals with a high sense of social responsibility. The graduates stand out and continually make distinguished achievements in the fields of academics, education, diplomacy, foreign affairs, and journalism, and many others.
Currently, more than half of the graduates from the School of Foreign Languages go to famous universities at home and abroad for further education and seek higher degrees.
Self-Positioning and Vision
In an era of globalization and information, the School of Foreign Languages constantly checks the direction of its discipline development. It has two missions: one is to conduct the study of foreign languages, literature and cultures, and related trans-cultural study while producing high quality talents in these fields; the other is to provide courses in foreign languages, literature, and cultures to the university and the whole society.
This discipline is a significant aspect of the humanities disciplines at Peking University and complements with other humanities departments. Study in this discipline is critical to China’s understanding of the world as well as academic and cultural accumulation. The study, translation, and introduction of foreign cultures and academic achievements allows China’s cultural and academic community to acquire international vision and promotes the cultural and academic progress of human society. To this end, there should be a high proportion of research content in teaching so that the students have immediate access to the top-level research achievements. This discipline commits itself to providing high-quality citizens and experts for China and the world, those who can adeptly fit into globalized working environments and serve the interest of the human society with outstanding foreign and native language competence and thorough understanding of foreign and Chinese cultures.
The most important research instrument in this discipline is foreign language. To expand research areas and to embrace internationalization, this discipline will consistently enhance its criteria, by thoroughly mastering the target language as a basic requirement. Mastering a language means more than fluency but also the ability to think, study, and tackle important topics, and to feel adept in the cultural and academic environment of the target language. To master a language requires the ability to communicate in that certain language with the most sophisticated minds that use the language. Meanwhile, another important criterion this discipline is to be able to study and communicate in various languages. English majors are required to take another foreign language; non-English majors are required to use English skillfully. Scholars in this discipline often need to conduct studies using two or more languages. Language instruments allow people to study and introduce China to the world in order to realize mutual understanding.
The School of Foreign Languages strives to train world citizens and foreign language experts, who have distinguished foreign language competence in speaking and writing, but more importantly, train those to master the languages and the cultures, with professional training in languages, literatures, and target language country studies. Different than monolingual and monocultural minds, those with trans-lingual and trans-cultural visions are able to work and live swiftly in any corner of the world, and are able to cope with the surroundings with broader vision and greater tolerance. They can see into life, philosophy and the academic world with better perception. Such language talents will stand out in the foreign language community, and once having entered other professions, they will, with the rigorous, systematic, and professional training in theory and skills, adapt rapidly to their new roles and become experts.
The School of Foreign Languages will conduct more in-depth studies in more fields, with languages as the instrument, in order to promote understanding of the languages and cultures of peoples in the world. It will also, by adopting more modern resources and facilities, provide language-related resources and services to assist other disciplines as well as the society in international communication.