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Is learning Mandarin a FAD??!?! Is the next century really going to be Chinese? watch

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    I have recently spent 3 months in Beijing, studying the language and the culture, and reading about the history and likely future of the place..I would like to discuss this notion that Mandarin is "worth learning!"

    I believe that:

    1. First off, Mandarin is unlikely to be the language of the future because:

    A. billions of chinamen have been learning english as their first foreign language from an early age....the zeal to learn english is increasing year-on-year, so if we need to discuss things with the chinese they will speak our language anyway!

    B. China might not even rise up, there are a hell of alot of factors that ought to prevent it becoming a real world power, e.g demographic timebomb (too many dependents, not enough workers...), china has nearly saturated the world market's with its products (thus will be less likely to achieve double digit economic growth in the future!), china's currency is vastly undervalued and america&co are getting increasingly pissed off---as a result the chinese govt. have vowed (sort of) to start bringing their currency levels up slowly (once chinese currency is at a correct value then their exports will be more costly, and their les educated workers will cost more...etc!!!!there are many more reasons....)

    It is not worht learning for most of us:
    2.Mandarin is exceptionally difficult to learn it properly, if you want to use it in the labour market you may need more than a bachelor degree. A bachelor degree in chinese requires years of intensive study at university when you could be doing more useful things. There is an "opportunity cost", i.e spanish is equally likely to be important and is much easier.


    3.even if you learn it fluently, if you are caucasian like myself, you will always be a deemed foreignerl!they will be welcoming and lovely etc, but you will remain a foreigner!

    I dunno, I have many reasons against learning it. I decided to learn it for fairly mercenary reasons...chiefly i seek wealth, so i want to be a banker. Its worth learning if your passionate about it, but i think the current notion that it is the language of the future is wrong.really wrong.

    debate would be nice, im confused on this topic...:eek3:
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    It's a useful language to learn but I also agree that it's overrated. Plenty of Chinese people don't even speak Mandarin for one.
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    Sure it's worth learning! But that's me, a language geek. :P

    I don't believe that it will become the language of the future. The perception of it as one of the most difficult languages on the planet is not going to help things, and I can't see English being pushed off the pedestal of lingua franca anytime soon.
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    (Original post by dannyparrott)
    I have recently spent 3 months in Beijing, studying the language and the culture, and reading about the history and likely future of the place..I would like to discuss this notion that Mandarin is "worth learning!"

    I believe that:

    1. First off, Mandarin is unlikely to be the language of the future because:

    A. billions of chinamen have been learning english as their first foreign language from an early age....the zeal to learn english is increasing year-on-year, so if we need to discuss things with the chinese they will speak our language anyway!

    B. China might not even rise up, there are a hell of alot of factors that ought to prevent it becoming a real world power, e.g demographic timebomb (too many dependents, not enough workers...), china has nearly saturated the world market's with its products (thus will be less likely to achieve double digit economic growth in the future!), china's currency is vastly undervalued and america&co are getting increasingly pissed off---as a result the chinese govt. have vowed (sort of) to start bringing their currency levels up slowly (once chinese currency is at a correct value then their exports will be more costly, and their les educated workers will cost more...etc!!!!there are many more reasons....)

    It is not worht learning for most of us:
    2.Mandarin is exceptionally difficult to learn it properly, if you want to use it in the labour market you may need more than a bachelor degree. A bachelor degree in chinese requires years of intensive study at university when you could be doing more useful things. There is an "opportunity cost", i.e spanish is equally likely to be important and is much easier.


    3.even if you learn it fluently, if you are caucasian like myself, you will always be a deemed foreign devil!

    I dunno, I have many reasons against learning it. I decided to learn it for fairly mercenary reasons...chiefly i seek wealth, so i want to be a banker. Its worth learning if your passionate about it, but i think the current notion that it is the language of the future is wrong.really wrong.

    debate would be nice, im confused on this topic...:eek3:
    I agree with a lot of the points you make. Overall, it probably is overhyped. I'm not sure about the foreign devil bit though. When I visited China, everyone I met was really welcoming and friendly. I have been to much more xenophobic hostle places than China.

    Ultimately, only you can decide whether it is worth the time and effort for you.
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    Ha, sorry. foreign devil is abit of a joke...

    i found them to be really welcoming, really kind, lovely. I stayed with a chinese guy for 2 months for free etc...

    ALSO, fair point- of course its up to people. My question is this- form the perspective of buisness/diplomacy etc is mandarin a useful language. is it as useful as spanish/portugues? or is it only useful as a quaint langauge for the linguistically curious?
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    Another thing I want to add is that Mandarin (along with Korean, Japanese, Arabic, Cantonese etc.) is rated as a language which takes roughly 2200 hours to learn*, while French/Spanish/Portuguese etc. take roughly 500 hours. You could probably learn to speak French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Dutch in the time it takes to learn Mandarin once you consider that the Romance languages are easier to learn once you know one, same with Germanic languages.

    *Edit: Just remembered, the site said 2200 hours PLUS a year immersed in a country which speaks the language. So in actual fact you could probably learn even more languages than I suggested in the time it takes to learn Mandarin
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    We have the best food, and our economy havn't stopped booming, it's just matter of time before we steal your womens too :awesome:

    On a more serious note, I believe Mandarin will join English as the dominate language, there is a long way to go before China can merge with the West. But of course, learning Mandarin would only benefit you, and offer you many opportunities in the future. But yes, you are always going to be deemed as a foreigner in China, but Chinese will always be deemed as a foreigner in the West too. so..
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    (Original post by dannyparrott)
    Ha, sorry. foreign devil is abit of a joke...

    i found them to be really welcoming, really kind, lovely. I stayed with a chinese guy for 2 months for free etc...

    ALSO, fair point- of course its up to people. My question is this- form the perspective of buisness/diplomacy etc is mandarin a useful language. is it as useful as spanish/portugues? or is it only useful as a quaint langauge for the linguistically curious?
    Like I said, I think the role of China and Mandarin has been exagerated. This is not to say that China's influence in the world economy will not substancially increase over the coming decades, it almost certainly will. It is, in my opinion, a much more useful language to learn than Spanish or portugues. The is already a substancial demand for English-Chinese translators and I believe this demand will grow as China develops and becomes a major player on the world stage. I just think that this growth will be slower than has been portrayed in the media.
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    (Original post by O-Ren)
    Another thing I want to add is that Mandarin (along with Korean, Japanese, Arabic, Cantonese etc.) is rated as a language which takes roughly 2200 hours to learn*, while French/Spanish/Portuguese etc. take roughly 500 hours. You could probably learn to speak French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Dutch in the time it takes to learn Mandarin once you consider that the Romance languages are easier to learn once you know one, same with Germanic languages.

    *Edit: Just remembered, the site said 2200 hours PLUS a year immersed in a country which speaks the language. So in actual fact you could probably learn even more languages than I suggested in the time it takes to learn Mandarin
    Well it really depends who you are. A Japanese may learn Chinese in a fewer time than a Westerner does because Japanese and Chinese characters and their languages have many similarities. Similarly a native English speaker may learn Spanish a lot quicker than an Asian does, because English and Spanish share similar terms; Some Spanish nouns are easy to guess for us(native English speakers)
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    Aslong as the US and the EU are around the world will speak English.

    I for one don't believe that China will become a superpower. Their geographical location, 1 child policy, government(dictatorship) and many other factors will stop them from becoming say the US of the 20th century or the British Empire of the 19th century.

    If anything India, are more likely to become a superpower.

    As for your question OP, no it's not worth learning Mandarin, unless you plan on living in China of course or doing something Mandarin related.
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    Mandarin's a fun language! Albeit difficult to learn.
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    Did you actually say 'Chinamen'?
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    (Original post by Stalin)
    Aslong as the US and the EU are around the world will speak English.

    I for one don't believe that China will become a superpower. Their geographical location, 1 child policy, government(dictatorship) and many other factors will stop them from becoming say the US of the 20th century or the British Empire of the 19th century.

    If anything India, are more likely to become a superpower.

    As for your question OP, no it's not worth learning Mandarin, unless you plan on living in China of course or doing something Mandarin related.
    Whats wrong with their geographical location ?
    The 1 child policy has been seriosuly relaxed.
    It's authoriatarian not a dictatorship but still how will this prevent it ? Soviet Union was a superpower..
    What other factors ?
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    (Original post by Stalin)
    Aslong as the US and the EU are around the world will speak English.

    I for one don't believe that China will become a superpower. Their geographical location, 1 child policy, government(dictatorship) and many other factors will stop them from becoming say the US of the 20th century or the British Empire of the 19th century.

    If anything India, are more likely to become a superpower.

    As for your question OP, no it's not worth learning Mandarin, unless you plan on living in China of course or doing something Mandarin related.
    Whats wrong with their geographical location ?
    The 1 child policy has been seriosuly relaxed.
    It's authoriatarian not a dictatorship but still how will this prevent it ? Soviet Union was a superpower..
    What other factors ?
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    It would require a massive shift for Mandarin to take over. The investment made in learning English by continental Europe, India, much of Africa and Russia is enormous - it would be with reluctance that they'd switch to Mandarin. It might be taught alongside English at some point but I don't see the majority of the world's population gaining the same fluency as they have in English, especially given the cultural immersion many nations have in the English language - I've watched MTV in a small village in Tanzania.
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    (Original post by dannyparrott)
    I have recently spent 3 months in Beijing, studying the language and the culture, and reading about the history and likely future of the place..I would like to discuss this notion that Mandarin is "worth learning!"

    I believe that:

    1. First off, Mandarin is unlikely to be the language of the future because:

    A. billions of chinamen have been learning english as their first foreign language from an early age....the zeal to learn english is increasing year-on-year, so if we need to discuss things with the chinese they will speak our language anyway!

    B. China might not even rise up, there are a hell of alot of factors that ought to prevent it becoming a real world power, e.g demographic timebomb (too many dependents, not enough workers...), china has nearly saturated the world market's with its products (thus will be less likely to achieve double digit economic growth in the future!), china's currency is vastly undervalued and america&co are getting increasingly pissed off---as a result the chinese govt. have vowed (sort of) to start bringing their currency levels up slowly (once chinese currency is at a correct value then their exports will be more costly, and their les educated workers will cost more...etc!!!!there are many more reasons....)

    It is not worht learning for most of us:
    2.Mandarin is exceptionally difficult to learn it properly, if you want to use it in the labour market you may need more than a bachelor degree. A bachelor degree in chinese requires years of intensive study at university when you could be doing more useful things. There is an "opportunity cost", i.e spanish is equally likely to be important and is much easier.


    3.even if you learn it fluently, if you are caucasian like myself, you will always be a deemed foreignerl!they will be welcoming and lovely etc, but you will remain a foreigner!

    I dunno, I have many reasons against learning it. I decided to learn it for fairly mercenary reasons...chiefly i seek wealth, so i want to be a banker. Its worth learning if your passionate about it, but i think the current notion that it is the language of the future is wrong.really wrong.

    debate would be nice, im confused on this topic...:eek3:
    This is what worries/puts me off learning any language

    Regarding your other points, I woulden't learn a language just because it's 'useful' so whether or not China does take over the world (which I am agreement with you, may well not happen), if you're enjoying learning about Chinese language and culture, then that should be enough. If not, then you might want to consider doing something else anyway :dontknow:

    (Original post by O-Ren)
    Another thing I want to add is that Mandarin (along with Korean, Japanese, Arabic, Cantonese etc.) is rated as a language which takes roughly 2200 hours to learn*, while French/Spanish/Portuguese etc. take roughly 500 hours. You could probably learn to speak French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Dutch in the time it takes to learn Mandarin once you consider that the Romance languages are easier to learn once you know one, same with Germanic languages.

    *Edit: Just remembered, the site said 2200 hours PLUS a year immersed in a country which speaks the language. So in actual fact you could probably learn even more languages than I suggested in the time it takes to learn Mandarin
    That's very interesting, I never knew that! What website is it?
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    I've taken a short introductory course in Mandarin and continued learning basic stuff myself; and i must say of all the languages that i could have started to learn, i picked the hardest for me. I learnt English in a couple of months. I doubt Mandarin will be that easy to crack :rolleyes:
    I'm planning to visit Beijing next year though :awesome:
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    (Original post by O-Ren)
    Another thing I want to add is that Mandarin (along with Korean, Japanese, Arabic, Cantonese etc.) is rated as a language which takes roughly 2200 hours to learn*, while French/Spanish/Portuguese etc. take roughly 500 hours. You could probably learn to speak French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Dutch in the time it takes to learn Mandarin once you consider that the Romance languages are easier to learn once you know one, same with Germanic languages.

    *Edit: Just remembered, the site said 2200 hours PLUS a year immersed in a country which speaks the language. So in actual fact you could probably learn even more languages than I suggested in the time it takes to learn Mandarin
    I didn't know that, but it sounds right - my brother did a year of basic mandarin in year 8 and it looked impossible.

    I agree with the points made in the OP generally; I think it's worth learning for interest, but it's not one of the languages on my list of ones I want to learn.

    (Russian is next, then Icelandic)
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    (Original post by colorization)
    Well it really depends who you are. A Japanese may learn Chinese in a fewer time than a Westerner does because Japanese and Chinese characters and their languages have many similarities. Similarly a native English speaker may learn Spanish a lot quicker than an Asian does, because English and Spanish share similar terms; Some Spanish nouns are easy to guess for us(native English speakers)
    I agree, but most people opn TSR are native English speakers. Those time estimates were for native English speakers.
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    (Original post by Stalin)
    Aslong as the US and the EU are around the world will speak English.

    I for one don't believe that China will become a superpower. Their geographical location, 1 child policy, government(dictatorship) and many other factors will stop them from becoming say the US of the 20th century or the British Empire of the 19th century.

    If anything India, are more likely to become a superpower.

    As for your question OP, no it's not worth learning Mandarin, unless you plan on living in China of course or doing something Mandarin related.
    Please tell what's wrong with their location? Bar having Russia to the North, India/Middle East to the west, Japan and other SE. Asian economies neighbouring, Australia nearby and the USA across the Pacific.
 
 
 
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