Mandarin Chinese is getting important and popular with each passing day. Learners have various reasons for learning it as the most important foreign language nowadays. The top 10 reasons for this trend are from my observatons:
1. China is emerging rapidly from a long period of stagnation/slumbering to its place as one of the great powers of the world today. China’s economy currently stands the second largest in the world and continues to grow at an amazing pace. Learning to speak Mandarin Chinese is a great way to take advantage of this huge economic shift and opportunities, to give oneself and one’s children an advantage in the increasingly competitive business world.
2. Opportunity, opportunity, opportunities not to be missed: international companies are competing for those with Mandarin Chinese skills to be placed as executives for their China ventures. Just ask: between equal foreign competitors courting a Chinese company, who will the company choose to associate with: a Chinese-speaking foreigner or a foreigner with a translator? It is high time for those aspiring to learn Chinese today for a bright tomorrow!
3. China is a huge export market for any country that takes export seriously.1/5th of the world’s population lives in the amazing land of China. Overseas Chinese dominate the economies of many countries in Asia, and speaking Mandarin gives you an edge in doing business with them, too. Countries with large overseas Chinese populations include Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia.
4. The world is becoming a global economy. Per a famous book, the world is becoming flat so communication, ideas, and goods are travelling faster and faster between countries including the UK and China. Learning Chinese gives you the opportunity to take advantage of this change. It’s a great ice breaker when working with people from China if you can speak or even say a few words in Chinese. This helps especially when dealing with business people on the other side of the world via conference call.
5. Chinese has become very useful in government. The Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. The US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geitner studied Chinese and attended Beijing University. The former Utah Governor, now Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, is fluent in Chinese (he learned it as a missionary in Taiwan and has an adopted child from China).
6. Chinese culture is over 5000 years old. By learning the Chinese Language, you will learn another culture. Learning a language gives you a better understanding through the grammar and even how the words are derived of the culture behind them. There is a lot of Chinese Poetry that lose some deep/subtle meaning when translated.
7. Learning another language keeps your brain sharp and active. When one uses a word, this word also triggers associations in the brain, brought about by the other languages one knows. Maybe this is why it seems that people who know more than one language are smarter. The numerous mental associations playing in their brain, opens new ideas. It also helps as people age. I once had a fun talk with a programmer explaining how learning a new computer language helped keep his mind fresh; One particular headmaster told me that he has improved his memory a lot since he started learning Mandarin Chinese, and his memory loss has been cured with learning it.
8. Learning Chinese will give a student a competitive advantage. Chinese is the fastest growing Foreign Language being taught at schools in the west, US in particular. I like Mayor Daly’s quote: “We want to give our young people opportunities to advance … and [Chinese] is a great opportunity to survive in today’s economy.” Students can get higher grades when they take Chinese subjects in school because they started early at home.
9. Mandarin Chinese is the most taught foreign language after English in Japan. If the Japanese are learning it, shouldn’t people in the west? The Japanese have a sharp scent on who or what is arriving. Mandarin Chinese is the most used language on the Internet.
10. Love, Courtship, Marriage, Family and Community- we do have quite a few people learning Mandarin Chinese with us for very personal reasons: they fancy oriental (Chinese) ladies for friendship, fiancée or marriage, they need to impress them with the ability to speak their language and communicate with their families when in China; It’s so great to be able to speak with them and the community in Chinese. There are big Chinese communities all over the world. Whether for business or to establish personal ties, knowing the language is not only useful, but endears you to people you want to connect to.