UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Shaping Leaders, Driving Results

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

WORKING Mandarin

WORKING Mandarin provides insight into the Chinese business world and equips participants with a solid ability to communicate in Mandarin.

Intended to provide grounding in spoken Mandarin, the course includes only a brief introduction to Chinese characters near the end of the course. Mandarin is written in pinyin, which uses the Latin alphabet with accents to indicate the tones and allows students to practice the spoken language immediately.

Course Schedule

Both Part A (fall) and Part B (spring) of Working Mandarin meet on Monday evenings from 5 to 6:15 pm. Conversation hours will be set to accommodate the students’ schedules. Part A covers Units 1-3 from the textbook, and Part B covers Units 4-6. The optional immersion program in China will be held during the MBA program’s Spring Break.

In-Country Immersion*

Previous Working Languages immersion participants have overwhelmingly reported finding the program more valuable than classroom time when it comes to speaking the language and understanding its cultural context. Although students are not required to go on the immersion, we strongly encourage everyone taking the course to attend. The immersions provide an incredibly valuable and memorable experience.

The Working Mandarin immersions feature

  • Homestays with local families
  • Customized language instruction
  • 2 Company visits—Previous immersion groups have visited Tanner Co., Google, AMB China, Unilever, and traditional Chinese companies (pottery, silk manufacture)
  • Cultural excursions and activities such as visits to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, Beijing Opera, tea ceremony & Chinese cooking class, and more
  • Community service project

*A minimum of 10 students is required to hold an immersion trip

Course Materials & Technology Requirements


The course textbook, WORKING Mandarin (Georgetown University Press), was written by UNC Chapel Hill’s Prof. Yi Zhou (Asian Studies) and Dr. Lynne Gerber (Kenan-Flagler Business School). The textbook comes with an audio CD containing recordings of vocabulary and dialogs from the book. Students should purchase their textbook (available through the publisher’s web site, Amazon.com, etc.) before the first class meeting.


Students also make extensive use of a Quia web site keyed to the textbook where weekly deliverables are assigned. Students must have

  • IBM compatible or Apple computer with built-in capacity to play MP3 files
  • Internet access (MAC operating system 10.2 or better, Internet Explorer 5.2 or better or Netscape 4.78 or better.
  • Speakers
  • A microphone (built in or attached)

Course Credit

For MBA students: Working Mandarin Part A and Part B offer 2.5 credits each. The optional immersion earns students an additional 1.5 credits.

Course Fees

  • Activity Fee: $90 nonrefundable fee for special course activities is due at the beginning of each semester
  • Quia registration: $25 paid directly to Quia.com, the online site that hosts assignments and weekly deliverables
  • Immersion fees (not including airfare) are approximately $2,500 (subject to change)

How to Register

Second year MBA students can register for Working Mandarin as they would for any open elective.

First year MBAs, however, require special permission to take any Working Languages course due to the demands of the first year program of study. Fill out this form and email it to rodrigum@kenan-flagler.unc.edu

Need more information? Contact Maria Elena Rodriguez, Director of the Working Languages program, at .

This program is supported by a Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) grant from the U.S. Department of Education.