History and Growth
Soochow University began to offer courses in foreign languages at its birth in 1900. Its distinguished graduate community include Professor Xu Guozhang, a well-known foreign language educator, Yang Jiang, a reputed translator of literature. The predecessor of the School, the English Department, was founded in 1940. After 80 years of growth, it has become a school of respectable scale and national visibility at a comprehensive university. Since its accreditation for master’s degree programmes in the 1980s, the School has been educating master students in a range of areas including English language and literature, foreign linguistics and applied linguistics, translation studies, Russian language and literature, and Japanese language and literature. Since 2003, it has proceeded to offer doctoral programmes in English language and literature, which later expanded to include Russian language and literature, foreign linguistics and applied linguistics, and translation studies. It was accredited as a doctoral-degree granting school in 2010. The School boasts a strong record in programme management in national and regional evaluations, ranking 17th in the third and fourth national programme/discipline evaluations conducted by the country’s Ministry of Education (MOE) in 2012 and 2017 respectively. With its remarkable progress, the School has grown to become a key player in developing foreign language major programmes in Jiangsu Province. According to the report released by ShanghaiRanking in October 2019, the discipline of foreign language and literature of Soochow University ranked 24th (top 11%) on the list of university performance by subject fields, hence its high academic reputation and social recognition in the region and nationwide.
Programmes and Faculty
The School offers a full range of degree programmes. Currently, it enrols over 1,200 full-time undergraduate students and over 350 full-time graduate students. Each undergraduate is engaged in one of its nine BA programmes including English, English education, translation, Japanese, Russian (Russian-English), French (French-English), Korean, German, and Spanish. The master’s students study for a degree in one of the seven fields of study: English language and literature, foreign linguistics and applied linguistics, translation studies, Russian language and literature, Japanese language and literature, French language and literature, Korean language and literature. Its Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows conduct research in foreign language and literature.
The School has a strong faculty with diverse professional experiences and great potential. Among its current 129 faculty members, 54 hold doctoral degrees and 63 are in the professoriate, including 24 professors, 33 associate professors, 5 distinguished professors, and 1 high-level foreign expert. Over 95% of the teachers have overseas experience of work, study, or academic visits. Leading the team are a couple of provincially or university-awarded teachers and recruits in provincial expert programmes.
Teaching and Research
With its focus on improving teaching practice and student cultivation, the School has developed a series of quality courses. Integrated English, which is the core course for undergraduate English majors as a provincial key programme (honour received in 2012), was rated a provincial outstanding course. Other MOE-approved honour-winning courses include the video course English Classics: From Bacon to Woolf, the English course for international students in China Traditional Chinese Culture, and Practical English for non-English majors designed as part of the curriculum reform pilot project. Efforts towards developing quality teaching materials have led to over 60 translated works, over 80 monographs and textbooks, among which 3 have been selected into the recommended textbook list for national planning.
With equal focus and commitment, the School has seen rapid growth in research output and academic reputation. Representative achievements include A Dictionary of English Collocations (1988) and A Dictionary of English Usage in the New Century (1998)compiled by Professor Wang Wenchang, winning the first prize of the National Educational Book Award and the National Book Award respectively. Individual undertakings are supported by groups and centres working on topics spanning English literature, linguistics, translation studies, Russian language and literature, and East Asian language and literature. One such research activity takes place in the provincial key research centre for Chinese culture translation and communication established in 2020. So far, the School has built a promising research team that has been working on over 50 projects funded by the National Social Science Fund of China (including 4 key projects), up to 100 projects funded by MOE, the provincial government, or other funding bodies. Since the 20th century, the School has a steady yearly output of over 100 research papers in academic journals. It has also launched an English-language academic journal Language and Semiotic Studies (Quarterly) affiliated with the National Semiotics Research Association as a platform for scholarly communication. A number of faculty members hold significant positions and play an active part in research societies nationwide. Meanwhile, the School has maintained cooperative relations with 42 foreign universities, and its international collaborative endeavours have also led to a training centre for UN document translators.
Atmosphere and Vision
The School sits in the beautiful downtown Tiancizhuang campus of Soochow University. While the faculty works in the quaint buildings of Chongyuan, Chunhui, Qiuyun, Rixin, and Yueyi, teaching takes place in well-equipped classrooms with all modern facilities. Together with the school library, language laboratory, and simulated translation/interpreting practice room, it empowers learning and research in a humanistic and integrative approach.
In line with the University motto “Unto a Full-Grown Man”, the School is committed to a 3C motto: Communication, Commitment, Community in its strive for the objective of “building a high-level, first-class national research university with international renown”, fulfilling its social responsibility by empowering the country’s development with creative, well-trained foreign language professionals with cutting-edge expertise.