Is Mandarin a Necessary Language to Learn  Research Paper

  • Length: 5 pages
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  • Subject: Teaching
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #37284504

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Mandarin a Necessary Language to Learn

In many regards, learning Mandarin can be considered a necessary task for a host of reasons, not the least of which may be found in the ever-fickle and competitive job market of today and of the future. There are several indicators that demonstrate that this statement is true, not the least of which can be found in the British school systems. At certain schools in Britain, both teachers and students are actively taking this language in efforts to be able to communicate with the native culture which many predict to be the economic power of the future -- perhaps even more so than the United States. When one pauses to consider that the majority of the people who live in China, which just so happens to comprise about 20% of the world's population, accounting for approximately 1.2 billion people which is more than can be found in North America and Europe combined, the necessity of learning this language becomes more apparent (Ming, 2011). This point becomes magnified when taking into account the immense influence China has in today's ever increasingly global economy. The message, therefore, is quite clear -- learning Mandarin is a pragmatic necessity to compete in the marketplace for today, and for tomorrow.

Interestingly enough, there are a number of students, school systems, and federal level programs and financing that appears to agree with the stance that learning Mandarin is swiftly becoming a necessity, not just for students in the United States but also for those across the world. In 2008, there were 60,000 students in the U.S. studying the language at a variety of levels including in post-secondary and secondary learning institutions. That figure represents a whopping 195% increase from 2004, and is indicative of the fact that compared to the study of other foreign languages in the United States, the pursuit of learning Mandarin has increased more than the study of any other language since that timeframe. In comparison, the study of Japanese only increased 18%, the study of German went up 8%, the study of Russian and Spanish, respectively, increased 3 and 2% (although it is significant that there were 6.42 million studying Spanish in 2008) (Robelen, 2011).

Subsequently, it cannot be considered too surprising that the study of Mandarin has increased. China has increased its eminent presence throughout the global stage accordingly to the study of its primary language, Mandarin. China is one of the world's leaders in terms of industry, technology, commerce, and economics. From a historical perspective, the study of the native tongue of a country that has figured prominently in international relations (including the study of Russia in the 60's and the pursuit of Japanese in the 80's) is anything but new. Additionally, with the efforts of federally funded agencies such as the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages actively promoting the learning of foreign languages within schools, Mandarin is the natural choice for the new millennium.

There are also a number of benefits associated with employability and the learning of Mandarin, which would enable the learner to communicate with more people than the learning of any other language would allow him or her to communicate with. In today's global marketplace, employers increasingly value workers who can speak foreign languages. In fact, the ability to do so is often so great of an asset that it can be used to leverage several employment boons in terms of salary and benefits. The ability to speak Mandarin, then, (particularly at a fluent level) would be a highly distinguishing facet of someone's professional profile, especially if he or she was involved in some aspect of business or finance, two areas in which China's proficiency is increasing almost daily. To underscore this point, it should be noted that perhaps five in a hundred thousand European citizens can communicate fluently in Mandarin. For laborers seeking employment in Europe in these aforementioned fields, the ability to speak this language can only increase their career options and prospects.

From a business perspective, it greatly behooves citizens from the United States, as well as those from any country other than China's, to get acquainted with Chinese language and culture as much as possible. To many professional analysts, China is already the driving force in today's global economy. Through 2009 China's national economy had been steadily increasing at a rate of approximately 11% a year, including a 2007 showing of 11.9%. Its foreign exchange reserve, in comparison to that of the United States (which is still trying to battle its way out of debt) is at a stunning 2 trillion dollar surplus. In 2010, Chinese spending accounted for roughly 25% of the global growth across the planet, which indicates how valuable this country is to current economic practices (Jubak, 2009).

Other previous, historical evidence is equally as compelling. Before today's economic recession, which has adversely affected traditional economic stalwart's such as the United States and Europe, became as severe as it has, there were a number of economic downturns that preceded it. One occurred in 1997 and 1998, in which China demonstrated its value to the world's economy by largely pulling several surrounding countries from financial despair due to its increased spending. The country spent heavily on its own infrastructure during this time period -- which included improvements in such key social areas such as freeway construction and amelioration in transportation -- and was able to overturn the spiraling economies hit hardest by the Asian currency crisis. The country is currently attempting to produce a similar effect in today's global market place, as the following quotation readily indicates. "The duration and depth of the current global slowdown -- which is deep enough to qualify as a recession in the United States, Europe and Japan -- and the long-term health of the global economy after this slowdown hinge on China's ability and willingness to fight this new war (Jubak, 2009)."

It may very well be true that China's "willingness" to do so, and to advantage its neighboring nations while doing so, greatly depends on the ability of people in other countries being able to speak the same language of the Chinese, both literally and figuratively. In a figurative sense, it greatly behooves both government and private industry to be able to work alongside with the Chinese and to benefit from their financial prowess. In a literal sense, doing so would be virtually impossible without learning Mandarin. Although there are a good deal of Chinese nationals who speak English, the magnitude of the gesture of attempting to learn what has traditionally been labeled one of the most difficult languages in the world would not be lost upon the host country.

As a result, Mandarin is actively being taken up in universities, collegiate settings, high schools and even in some elementary schools across the entire planet. The following quotation underscores the importance and the fair amount of necessity involved in the learning and speaking of Mandarin for posterity. "Any diplomat or international business professional will attest to the tremendous advantage that speaking and respecting a counterpart's language brings to any negotiation or partnership. Increasingly, that colleague across the table will be a native Chinese speaker. By teaching Mandarin in U.S. public schools, we are making a wise investment in one of the many vital skills our children will need to compete for high-skill jobs and thrive in the interconnected 21st-century economy." (Supanc, 2011). It is no coincidence, for example, that one of the chief financial backers of the effort to learn Mandarin in British educational institutions such as Brighton College and Kingsford community school is HSBC Bank. HSBC Bank operates as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, and is actively involved in the marketing of learning Chinese -- and Mandarin -- throughout…

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