East Asian Languages & Cultures

Academic Department Introduction

The languages and cultures of China, Japan, and Korea play a critical role in our increasingly interconnected world. The East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC) Department offers an immersive study of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, from beginning to advanced levels. By the fourth year, students are adept readers who are able to express themselves with sophistication on a range of topics, both orally and on the page. In courses taught in English, students learn about all aspects of ancient and modern East Asian culture.

Many EALC students spend a summer, semester, or year abroad in a country where their chosen language is spoken. This opportunity connects students with people in their host countries while immersing them in the language and culture. Many students complete their major or minor credits while abroad, enabling them to take more elective courses (or focus on their other major) when they return to Wellesley.

Learning goals

  • Understand literature, articles, social media, film, and other material in the target language.

  • Present ideas in the target language.

  • Master levels of formality appropriate to specific social and professional settings.

  • Understand East Asian classical traditions as well as modern literature and culture.

  • Identify salient marks of East Asian national cultures and draw connections among them.

  • Assemble research materials in both English and primary language courses.

Programs of Study

EALC major

Students follow one of three tracks: Chinese language and culture, Japanese language and culture, or Korean language and culture. In each track, they learn a language and explore sociocultural practices through coursework and study abroad experiences.

Options for minor

Students majoring in another discipline can minor in Chinese language and culture, Japanese language and culture, or Korean language and culture.

Course Highlights

  • Language constitutes an important marker of social identity at many levels, such as the individual, subcultures, ethnic groups, and nations. Language has contributed to establishing unity, socio-cultural diversity, and nationalism in East Asian Society. This course explores the function of language in forming national, ethnic, and cultural identity and nationalism throughout the modernization process for China, Korea, and Japan. The seminar will discuss how language has been interconnected with the shaping of intra-East Asian literary/cultural practices, modern identity, and globalization. Students will acquire fundamental knowledge of the dynamics of language and socio-cultural changes as well as comparative perspectives on nationalism/colonialism and national identity in East Asian communities. Basic knowledge of and familiarity with a particular language/region (China, Korea, or Japan) and its historical, socio-linguistic backgrounds are required.
  • This seminar guides students to explore the political, cultural, and epistemological changes represented in Chinese science fiction. It contextualizes the genre’s evolution in the intellectual history of modern China, where imagining the future of China is often the focus of contending ideologies and intellectual trends. The course introduces students to three booms of Chinese science fiction, which all happened when China went through drastic changes. The contemporary new wave of science fiction particularly presents a subversive vision of China’s pursuit of power and wealth, a dystopian counterpart to the government-promoted “Chinese dream.” This course examines the cutting-edge literary experiments that characterize the new wave, and studies the transgression of gender, class, and nation in science fiction that evokes sensations ranging from the uncanny to the sublime, from the corporeal to the virtual, and from the apocalyptic to the transcendent. (CHIN 382 and CPLT 382 are cross-listed courses.)

Research highlights


  • Mayling Soong Foundation

    Funding for summer study in Asia is available from Wellesley’s Mayling Soong Foundation, named for Mayling Soong Chiang, class of 1917, who became first lady of China.

  • Ted Wang Fellowship

    Students interested in international careers spend a semester at one of our partner institutions in China, Japan, or Korea, gaining advanced knowledge of the culture and language. Fellows receive a stipend to cover the expenses of networking with professionals in their host country.

  • Internships

  • On campus

    Residential language corridors, student organizations, and dining hall language tables offer opportunities to practice speaking skills outside the classroom.

Beyond Wellesley

Beyond Wellesley

EALC graduates follow a wide range of career paths that draw upon their language and culture knowledge, working in diverse fields, such as journalism, finance, medicine, law, academia, scientific research, diplomacy, politics, library science, computer programming, and IT.

Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures

Green Hall
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Mingwei Song
Department Chair