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Masters student Amy Pittman prepares to teach her first Beginning Chinese class at Weber State Davis campus on Sept 24. (Sarah Earnshaw / The Signpost)

Community members convened 9 a.m. on a Saturday, prepared to learn Mandarin. With a class of eight, master’s student Amy Pittman, who grew up with a Chinese-speaking mother and an English-speaking father, conducted the course.

This course is for students with no previous knowledge in spoken or written Chinese,” Pittman said during the first day of class. “The emphasis for this class is to develop listening, speaking in conjunction with reading and writing skills in both the Pinyin phonetic system and traditional Chinese characters.”

The class began Sept. 24 and continues on Saturdays from 9–11 a.m. at the Weber State University Davis Campus for six more weeks. “It’s just to help community members who don’t have time for regular all-semester courses to come and learn some beginning Chinese,” Pittman said.

The class began with attendees learning how to pronounce the basic letters in the language. “Chinese is a tonal language,” Pittman said to the class. “Every Chinese character is a syllable with a fixed tone. If the tone is changed, then the meaning is changed. Mandarin, the official Chinese language of China and Taiwan, has four basic tones. Each one is indicated by a tone mark. Tone marks are placed over the vowel.”

Many of the students are community members with family members or friends who speak Chinese.

There were two or three members with children in the elementary school programs that teach them Chinese throughout the year. Another member has had a passion for Chinese throughout her life after taking it in high school and befriending students at Utah State University that spoke Mandarin. Another student had coworkers who spoke mostly Chinese.

The class is part of the Community Education Program, meant to help community members who are either attending college at Weber State University or not.

Classes held in October include focuses like making a marketing idea plausible, an introductory class for Microsoft Office and a traditional Chinese dance class. There is an introduction to Microsoft Office class starting Oct. 5. Many of these classes are held in a six-week period to help students or community members who don’t have time for typical Monday through Friday semester classes.

On the Continuing Ed website, anyone is able to sign up to receive notifications for upcoming community classes.

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