What about learning Mandarin?

20 May

There are many languages out there. Foreigners, given the huge benefits and the increasingly experienced language schools, vastly underrate mandarin. So the questions begs asking – what about Mandarin?

In the last 10 years the interest for Standard Mandarin has increased many times over. The language remains a difficult objective for students even today, but the rewards of proficiency have never been greater and the increased experience level of teachers at language schools makes the learning process easier fore every year. This article will try to take stock of what learning Mandarin means in 2010: how hard is it and what awaits the successful seeker at the end of the rainbow?

For starters, the pot of gold is pretty unique. I will assume that you speak English already as you are reading this… which means that learning Mandarin is the single most productive effort you can make, language wise, to increase the scope of your communication capabilities. China is not a country. It is a continent. Over 20 percent of mankind is Chinese today. There are more than twice as many Chinese people as there are Europeans and North Americans combined. Put in this context, even calling China mere continent is insufficient. Furthermore, the proportion of Chinese people that speak English is one of the lowest ratios in the world. It is only recently that the Chinese Ministry of Education has defined English as a long-term strategic target for public schools. This means that Standard Mandarin holds a unique key to the Middle Kingdom and will do so for at least our lifetime.

Secondly, the pot of gold is pretty large. For the last 20 years China’s economy has grown by an average of more than 10 percent per year, it has almost increased 4 times over. This is not likely to change any time soon. When China has half the per person wealth of The United States of America, China will be twice as rich. When China’s individual personal wealth is on par the with the USA China’s economy will be 4 times greater than The total US economy.

Thirdly, the pot will only get bigger. Currently China is known as the factory of the world. It is world leading in manufacturing. With production, comes further investment, with further investment, comes, as we have seen, phenomenal growth rates. With sustained growth rates over time comes consumption. In the future China will not only be defined by its thirst for investment to fuel its factory. In 20 years China will also be the worlds largest consumption market. 20 years may seem as a long time now but there are many companies even now that are rushing in to get a piece of a future cake.

Which brings us to the fourth point. As companies are rushing in to see what China holds, the need for bilingual staff on either side of both the investment and sales bridges grows. As Chinas rise, as a global power will define our time by virtue of constituting its greatest paradigm shift, Mandarin will represent our lifetime’s greatest culture shift. English has dominated the worlds other languages since the English ruled the waves. When China rules the worlds markets Mandarin will rise as an equally important mode of communication. There is of course a lag between cause and effect in this matter, but the future will be a different place than what we see today.

Finally, what about the nature of the actual learning process? What about learning Mandarin? 10 years ago there was not a single curriculum in China, which catered to western students in a sufficient manner. Education was available, but it was a Chinese education in Chinese. Memorization was emphasized above all other factors. Western students, used to an interactive classroom, really struggled to learn Chinese in China, because of this. Today this really has changed. There are language schools today that teach Mandarin in a way that is aimed directly at a western mind. Application and comprehension is more important than mass memorization and with these changes the cost of learning Mandarin is lower than ever before.

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


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