Mandarin Studies in The Coming Decade

20 May

The benefits of learning Mandarin are tied to the benefits of accessing China. In the wake of the western economies failure, the coming decade will belong to emerging markets. Among these China is King.

China is asserting its interests in the world. China is addressing its remaining domestic problems, such as the environment and an over reliance on exports to drive its economic growth. China is also asserting its own consensus; Beijing may still be experience some foreign criticism, but the nature and form that this criticism takes have been more and more toned down, today it is merely a mumble. For these reasons it is fair to say in many ways, that the next decade will be the decade of emerging markets, and among developing countries, China is king. It there fore also fair to stay that learning to speak mandarin is more interesting in 2010, than ever before. There are three factors that influence the benefits of learning to speak a language. Lets look at them in turn and then make a few conclusion of what they mean for Mandarin language studies, today and in the coming decade.

One variable is the increase in the amount of people one can communicate with. For at least one hundred years, for an English speaker, Chinese Mandarin has been unrivaled in this respect. The reason for this is two fold. Firstly, very few Chinese citizens are bilingual. Secondly, there are a lot of Chinese people. In terms of population, China is not a country. Today China’s population is roughly the same as the entirety of Europe, including Russia, and North America. If we are to try to classify China in line with standard geographical cardinal designations, a large continent is more fitting than a country. To put this statement into context, if China indeed was considered a continent it would be worlds second most populous, after Asia.

A second variable that most people consider when trying to evaluate the benefit of proficiency is how ones employability will change if they learn a language. For Mandarin, for an English speaker, in 2010, these prospects are probably also unrivaled. The number one factor for employability is the size of the niche that one inhabits on the labor market. Were an English speaking person to learn Swedish, for instance, the niche would almost remain unchanged, as almost everyone in Sweden already speaks English. Was an English speaking person to learn SiSwati, a South African tribal language, for instance, the niche would be super small, but still not very interesting. Mandarin and China does not have any of these characteristics. Very very few Chinese people speak good English and China, as a niche, is one of the world’s most interesting places to do business.

Which is the third reason that people learn a language: to get access to an interesting place. Chinas rise to fame is recent. It seems crazy today that China only ten to twenty years ago existed in relative obscurity. Most western people were only aware of the negative aspects of a very poor and very large nation in the east. Today China is lives in the limelight and for good and for bad, when China shifts its weight, the world needs to listen. Western politicians condemn the remaining problems that China has but their rebukes have lost their teeth. China’s weathering of the economic turmoil of 2006 to 2010 is undeniably a great feat. When global asset prices collapsed in the wake of the American property bubble and loan crisis, China’s economy was all smooth sailing. With a weighted 25% resource efficiency there are still immense benefits to be made from investing in, and trading with, China.

All this has resulted in one thing. People have taken notice. Furthermore, there is still a massive potential for growth in Chinese language studies, and the coming twenty year will see a parallel growth in people coming to China to learn Mandarin and continuing Chinese economic achievements. This will let China continue to make its mark in a world where it is increasingly relevant, and with the rise of The Middle Kingdom, proficiency in Mandarin will become increasingly useful.

Rui Ming works for a Mandarin academy that is a great option for those that want to learn Chinese. If you are interested in more information about learning Chinese in China, please consult the website of Beijing Gateway Academy.

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