Frequently Asked Questions

What is professional proficiency?

In Flagship, proficiency is all about what you can do with the Chinese language. Can you say hello/goodbye? Introduce yourself? Give directions? Tell a story about something happened to you? Explain a class project you’re working on? Read a newspaper? Explain research in your major field? These all represent different levels of proficiency.Professional proficiency indicates that a person is able to use Chinese in his/her field or profession with few linguistic barriers. In the workplace, a person may need to make use of formal and informal language (and determine which to use when!). A wide range of topics may come up, too. Some things, like deciding a time for a meeting, are very straightforward. Other things, like working with colleagues to determine the best method of analysis to use for a report, are much more complex and abstract – an employee in this situation may need to provide lots of very detailed explanation about why one way is better than another and convince his/her colleagues of this. Someone with professional proficiency will be able to handle both situations in a culturally appropriate and polite way.A person with professional proficiency knows the special jargon used in their field, but is not limited to that field only. S/he can understand, talk, and write about many different areas of general interest, such as social and political issues, and can provide structured arguments to support opinions.

What is the Chinese Language Flagship Program?

The Language Flagship Program, which started in 2002, offers a new way for students to reach professional levels of proficiency in languages that are less commonly taught in the U.S. Chinese is one of the seven languages chosen by national organization based in Washington, D.C. called The Language Flagship. Through this program, students are able to combine high levels of proficiency in Chinese with a major in any field so that after they graduate they will be able to perform their job duties in English and in Chinese without linguistic or cultural barriers. Today, there are twelve programs in Chinese around the nation. For a complete list of all Flagship languages, see The Language Flagship.

Is it a degree program?

Yes, students can earn a B.A. degree in Chinese with a specialization in the Chinese Language Flagship. If you’re not sure how Flagship would impact your academic plans, contact us at to discuss different options. Flagship students typically double major in Flagship and any other discipline they desire. For example, we have students majoring in International Relations, Economics, Business, Art, Music, Computer Science, Travel Industry Management, Biology, and more. Some students are also majors in Chinese and have a minor in another field. Many students also combine these dual majors the Honors program. Please note that the program sheet is being revised to streamline the requirements for students with multiple degrees.

How can the Chinese Language Flagship Program benefit me?

There are a lot of benefits to participating in the Flagship Program! Professionally, the high level proficiency you’ll achieve, the in-country experience you’ll gain, and the academic excellence you’ll demonstrate will open doors to more career opportunities. In addition to having more job options, you’ll stand out to hiring managers, particularly for internationally oriented positions or positions in the federal government. Many Flagship alumni say they have better chances of funding for graduate school because they completed a Language Flagship Program. The certification of high levels of proficiency in Chinese that Flagship students earn could also help you negotiate a higher salary.

Flagship offers many resources to students who are commented to reaching high levels of proficiency in Chinese. Some examples are: individual advising and tutoring, overseas summer study opportunities, generous scholarships and being part of a great community of students who are passionate about learning Chinese.

What is the difference between the B.A. in Chinese and the B.A. in Chinese with a specialization in the Chinese Language Flagship?

The key difference between the two programs is in the level of Chinese proficiency that students achieve. Students in the Chinese B.A. degree are required to complete 400-level Chinese Language courses.

In the Flagship, students take their language skills even higher by:
• Taking post-400 level language courses on academic, professional, and formal language
• Taking courses taught in Chinese in other fields at UHM. In the past, courses such as Ethnography of China, Readings in 20th Century Chinese Literature, City in Modern Chinese Literature and Visual Arts, Chinese Economy, Geography of China, Local History of Late Imperial China, Musical Cultures: China, and Chinese Political Economy have been taught.
• Participating in either the Overseas Flagship Capstone Year at host institution in China (TBA) or National Yang-Ming University or participating in the Domestic Capstone Year in Monterey, California with the Defense Language Institute.

What is the benefit of a B.A. in Chinese with a specialization in the Chinese Language Flagship?

The Chinese Flagship Language Specialization is designed to help and support students in the challenging endeavor of reaching professional level of proficiency in Chinese. There are four Flagship levels:
I. Getting/Building a strong foundation in Chinese (CHN 101-202)
II. Expanding your language skills (CHN 301-302)
III. Using academic and professional language (CHN 401-402, CHN 485-486)
IV. Participating in the Overseas or Domestic Capstone Year

Students with no previous language study start at the Level 1; those who have studied the language before or know it from using it at home can take the East Asian Languages and Literatures placement test and start at the level they are placed into.

If you are not sure how the Flagship could fit into your academic plans, talk to us about it! Prior to applying, contact the Program Coordinator at or 808-956-8844 for general information. After being accepted, you’ll go to the Flagship Director for advising. You’ll start by making a four-year plan and then talk to her about updates and ongoing advising each semester.

We are happy to work with you and your other advisors to develop a personalized pathway for you to succeed in the Chinese Language Flagship Program while also earning another major.

Why do students participate in summer programs?

Students usually participate in summer programs after they have completed CHN 102 or CHN 202 in order to accelerate their language learning. Below is a typical timeline. This timeline allows students to complete CHN 401-402 as sophomores and frees up time to focus on academic and professional language as juniors and seniors. This scenario may be different for Chinese Heritage Learner.

There is some flexibility to this schedule and you should discuss your specific degree requirements and plans with the Flagship Director. Here is a possible schedule for students beginning UHM with no prior background in Chinese:
• CHN 101-2: UHM Campus
• CHN 201-2: Domestic Summer Program
• CHN 301-2: UHM Campus
• CHN 401-2: Overseas Summer Program in China or Taiwan

Can students participate in any Chinese language program or only the ones listed on the website?

The programs recommended by Flagship are carefully vetted. Students who attend them consistently cover the full year of academic coursework and are able to smoothly progress to the next level upon their return to the UHM campus. Flagship students nationwide are  enthusiastic about these summer programs. In addition to studying, students participate in many fun cultural activities and local excursions to interesting sites. If you are interested in a different program in China or Taiwan, you can discuss this with the Flagship Director.

Flagship Student Scholarships are available for both domestic and overseas summer study, as well as the Flagship Overseas or Domestic Capstone Year. These scholarships can only be applied to approved domestic and overseas programs.

What if I am unable to participate in summer programs?

There is often flexibility about when students participate in summer programs, particularly if students start Flagship as a freshman. When you are accepted into the Chinese Language Flagship Program, you’ll create an academic plan with the Flagship Director, and summer program plans will be included in that. If you find out about other opportunities that you are interested in, just make an appointment and talk to her about how that would impact your Flagship progress.

Is this program appropriate for Chinese heritage students or students who already have studied Chinese in high school?

Absolutely! Many students who know Chinese (Mandarin or another dialect like Cantonese or Taiwanese) from using it at home or from previously studying it find that the Flagship program is a great way to further expand their understanding of both Chinese language and culture.

Students with previous language background also generally find it easier to include the Chinese Language Flagship Program in their study plans, especially when it comes to majors with less flexibility, such as architecture, engineering, and computer science.

Students who received a 5 on the AP Chinese exam can enroll in CHN 301. Other students should take the EALL Placement Testing to determine which level is appropriate for them.

I heard that Chinese Flagship students need to spend one year in China or Taiwan. If I do not want to spend one year overseas, can I still join the Chinese Language Flagship Program?

Flagship student have the option to apply for the Overseas Capstone Year at the host institution in China (TBA) or National Yang-Ming University or for the Domestic Capstone Year in Monterey, California with the Defense Language Institute. The Flagship Capstone Year is the final stage of the Flagship program and is critical to reaching professional levels of proficiency in Chinese. During the amazing 9-month program, students take courses in their field with their peers entirely in Chinese (with some tutoring and other language training). They also complete an internship that makes use of their language skills in a position relevant to their career goals. Being immersed in Chinese language and culture for this extended period of time helps students reach their proficiency goals.

The Capstone Year is a required part of the Flagship program, regardless of whether you declare the major or not.

There are Flagship Student Support Scholarships and many other scholarships available for this program and you will receive individual advising on how to apply for those.

I heard that there is a very difficult exam that students have to pass in order to receive the B.A. in Chinese Flagship; if I cannot pass that exam, does that mean that I will not get my B.A. degree from UHM at the end of my college experience? If this is not the case, what happens if I cannot pass that exam?

The goal of the Flagship program is to help you reach professional level proficiency in Chinese. Students participate in proficiency assessments of reading, listening, and speaking skills periodically to keep track of their progress. These tests help you and your teachers understand your current level and how to help you get to higher levels. Students always take these assessments before and after summer programs to make sure they are ready for the next level and may take them at other times as well.

What if I don’t “pass”?

These are not pass/fail tests. They just let us know what you need help with. We’ll work with you on a plan that may include additional tutoring on specific topics, independent work, or additional coursework to target specific skills.

When students apply to the Overseas or Domestic Capstone Year, they take similar tests. Students need to reach specific benchmarks on these tests in order to qualify for the Capstone Year. This is because the Capstone is a rigorous in-country experience and students need to have a certain level of proficiency in order to succeed in it.

What if I don’t “pass” the tests for the Capstone Year?

In general, we only recommend that students apply for Capstone if we feel confident they are at or close to the benchmarks. Students who don’t reach the required benchmarks for some reason, but are close, may be given the opportunity to re-test a few months later. In this case, we would make a plan for additional tutoring, independent work, and/or additional coursework. If students still don’t pass during the second round, they may be able to attend an additional summer program and re-apply to Capstone for the next application cycle.

What is Flagship tutoring? I’m doing well in my classes. Why do I need to do it?

Flagship tutoring is different from other tutoring. It is not homework help or review of what you’ve done in class. Those things are each student’s responsibility and students should talk to their class teachers if they are struggling.

Flagship tutoring is a chance for students to hone their language skills through practice with expert and native speakers of the language. Each week you’ll meet for short periods of time with 3-4 tutors to practice reading, writing, speaking and listening. You’ll have chances to5/7practice grammar, fluency, and pronunciation as well as time to communicate with your tutors in speaking and writing. Students in Levels I & II receive approximately 1.5 hours tutoring a week. Students in Level III and above receive approximately 2.5 hours tutoring a week.

When students reach high levels of proficiency, their tutoring focuses on Chinese materials related to the students’ own major. So, a student who is majoring international affairs, may be reading articles and listening to podcasts that focus on global issues.

About the tutors: Tutors are usually graduate students in various fields at UHM. Some are experts in language education while others specialize in Asian Studies, Communications, Etymology, or other fields.

About scheduling: The tutoring schedule is established at the beginning of the semester based on both student and tutor availability.

How do I transfer credit from my summer program?

To transfer credit to UHM from another institution, send the syllabi to EALL Advising ( and have your official transcript sent to UH Admissions office.

Their address is:

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Office of Admissions
2600 Campus Road, Rm 001
Honolulu, HI 96822-2385


The US federal government considers Chinese critical to the US’ economic and national wellbeing. In the private sector, the Chinese market continues to thrive. Because of this, Flagship graduates are well-equipped for highly sought-after jobs. Some examples of whatgraduates in different fields would be able to do in the workplace are:


Present financial data to Chinese speaking shareholders at formal events


Diagnose and treat patients using Chinese

Computer Science

Work with a global team to research and develop new software in the federal government or private sector


Report on local and international news in Chinese

Tourism Industry

Develop tourism programs for the increasing number of visitors to Hawaii from Chinese speaking countries

Political Science

Join the intelligence community as an analyst or the State Department as a foreign service officer

If you have additional questions, please contact…

Flagship provides a lot of individualized attention to students and it’s also a way to connect with a community of Chinese language learners. If you have questions about any aspect of the Chinese Language Flagship Program, before or after applying, just talk to us! You can reach out to us at or 808-956-8844.

It is a great opportunity to achieve amazing levels of Chinese. We are here to help you will reach your goals!