Chinese is spoken by nearly 1.2 billion people across the world. Standard Chinese is the official language in Mainland China and Taiwan. It is also one of the four official languages of Singapore and one of the six official languages of the United Nations. It has become one of the most important international languages with the rise of China in economic and political influence. Knowledge of Chinese language and culture is increasingly valuable to prospective employers in both public and private sectors. The Chinese program at UW-Madison is considered to be one of the best programs in the US, with a reputation for quality and effectiveness. Chinese program faculty members provide expertise in a wide range of fields such as Chinese language pedagogy, linguistics, religion, culture, and literature. Students receive outstanding instruction and close, personal attention from faculty in Chinese courses of all levels.