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Chinese 441: Beginning Classical Chinese 文言文初探

A gentleman establishes his way through learning.

—Confucius (Analects XIX.7)

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Course Materials

Instructor: Professor David B. Honey 韓教授


Three years of modern Chinese

Course Goals and Learning Outcomes

The Chinese Section of the Asian and Near Eastern Languages at Brigham Young University has established this as one of the class’s expected program outcomes: “Read and analyze selected texts in classical Chinese and demonstrate a knowledge of key grammatical patterns.” The chief means to reach and assess this outcome is through Chinese 441.

The class revolves around three concrete learning outcomes that, when taught together, lead to the overall program outcome.

The first outcome is to attain proficiency in the use of the common grammatical particles and patterns essential in mastering the intricacies and subtleties of classical Chinese prose, the language of the Middle Kingdoms from the time of Confucius (551–479 BC) to the unification under Qinshi Huangdi (221 BC).

The second outcome is to learn the meanings and usages of much of the standard vocabulary of classical Chinese. It is of particular interest to discover the etymologies of many modern phrases in their classical guises.

The third outcome will be to gain a grasp of the culture or historical background of the Chinese idioms introduced in the book.

These outcomes will be achieved through close readings of selected texts, from extended passages to short sentences, which clearly exhibit the linguistic norms and styles of classical Chinese.

Course Materials

Gregory Chiang, Language of the Dragon (Boston: Cheng & Tsui, 1998), available from the BYU Store.

Additional readings, grammatical aides, homework assignments, etc., will be included in each lesson.

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Course Organization

There will be a quiz on the course introduction and syllabus. The course consists of twelve lessons (with one to two textbook lesson each) and two exams: a midterm exam and a final exam. Each lesson includes a reading assignment (culture and historical background), a practice homework (covering the textbook units and the reading assignment), and one lesson test. Every lesson begins with a list of expected learning outcomes and the specific assignments for that lesson. Note: Each section in Unit 1 of the textbook is seen as a lesson. For example, “Grind an Iron Pestle Into a Needle” pg. 1 is considered the first lesson.

Student Learning Outcomes

The primary learning outcomes will be measured through lesson tests and the midterm and final exam. Each lesson is tested. The midterm will be taken after lesson 6; the final exam will cover lessons 7–12. Questions in the homework assignments and lesson tests will appear on the midterm and final.


Each lesson has a homework set for a total of 12 homework sets. A homework set consists of 6 to 7 homework assignments and a supplementary reading assignment. When you complete the reading assigment, you have completed your homework set.

There are two discussion board questions paced throughout the course. You must complete these questions and the homework sets before you can access the lesson quiz.

Every lesson includes a lesson quiz, which is comprehensive, open book, and timed; you may take each quiz up to 3 times. Lesson quizzes will not become available until all the homework and discussion questions (if relevant) have been completed for that lesson.


A proctored midterm exam is worth 20% of your final grade. It is closed book and notes. The proctored final exam is also closed book/notes and is worth 20% of your final grade.

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Recommended Schedule


Course Introduction
Introduction/Syllabus Quiz

Lesson 1

Language of the Dragon, Unit 1 and Unit 2
Lesson 1 Quiz

Lesson 2

Language of the Dragon, Unit 3 and Unit 4
Lesson 2 Quiz

Lesson 3

Language of the Dragon, Unit 5 and Unit 6
Lesson 3 Quiz

Lesson 4

Language of the Dragon, Unit 7 and Unit 8
Lesson 4 Quiz

Lesson 5

Language of the Dragon, Unit 9 and Unit 10
Lesson 5 Quiz


Midterm Review
Midterm Exam

Lesson 6

Language of the Dragon, Unit 11
Lesson 6 Quiz

Lesson 7

Language of the Dragon, Unit 12
Lesson 7 Quiz

Lesson 8

Language of the Dragon, Unit 13
Lesson 8 Quiz

Lesson 9

Language of the Dragon, Unit 14
Lesson 9 Quiz

Lesson 10

Language of the Dragon, Unit 15
Lesson 10 Quiz

Lesson 11

Language of the Dragon, Unit 16
Lesson 11 Quiz

Lesson 12

Language of the Dragon, Unit 17
Lesson 12 Quiz


Final Review
Final Exam

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Your final course grade will be determined as detailed below.

Assignments and Exams Precent of Grade
Introduction/Syllabus Quiz 1% Extra credit
12 Sets of Homework Assignments 12%
12 Lesson Quizzes 48%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 20%
Grading Span
A 93–100%
A− 90–92%
B+ 86–89%
B 83–85%
B− 80–82%
C+ 76–79%
C 73–75%
C− 70–72%
D+ 66–69%
D 63–65%
D− 60–62%
E (fail) 59% or below

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


12 computer-graded homework sets (can not be resubmitted); 2 discussion questions; 12 computer-graded lesson quizzes (can not be resubmitted) 


1 midterm and 1 final exam (midterm and final exams may not be retaken); both are computer-graded.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. 

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

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Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514