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Thread: China's rapid rise spurs Americans to learn Chinese

  1. #1
    The Angel of Justice Zauriel's Avatar
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    China's rapid rise spurs Americans to learn Chinese

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20050731...n_050731221938

    WASHINGTON (AFP) - China is casting such a huge shadow on the United States that many Americans are scrambling to learn the Chinese language in a bid to retain their competitive edge.


    "Interest in learning Chinese among American youth and their parents has grown dramatically in the past five years," said Vivien Stewart, vice president at the Asia Society, a US group trying to bridge the gap between Americans and the peoples of Asia and the Pacific.

    China's dramatic rise to near superpower status and its telling effects politically, economically and culturally are driving the interest to learn the language, experts say.

    From kindergartens to high schools, studies by the Asia Society show, there is a "rapid rise" in interest among pupils to study the Chinese language.

    This is despite the fact that most of the schools lack qualified teachers or do not currently offer the language in their curriculum.

    "The Chinese rich cultural traditions and blossoming economy mean that is now essential for all of our students to be better prepared to engage them and seize opportunities together," said Michael Levine, Asia Society's executive director of education.

    A 2004 College Board survey found that 2,400 high schools -- an incredibly high number -- would be interested in offering the Advanced Placement (AP) courses in Chinese language and culture when the courses become available in 2006.

    AP courses are administered by the College Board and give students college credit for passing an end-of-the-year exam. But most of the schools that have expressed interest do not yet offer Chinese.

    "We expected a few hundred schools to express interest in offering the Chinese AP, so these results were eye-opening," said College Board President Gaston Caperton.

    "Americans have been the world's most successful students and entrepreneurs for the past century. We have to envision a new set of global skills that include understanding world languages and cultures to retain our edge in an increasingly interconnected world," he said.

    China, the world's most populous nation, is critical to the United States because it is a leading trader, consumer and investor. Its political influence is also rising across the globe.

    It has replaced the United States as the world's largest consumer and could become the second largest economy in the world, after the United States, in the next two to three decades.

    US total trade with China is at a whopping 230 billion dollars, very much in China's favor.

    America's huge budget deficit, economists say, is being bankrolled by China to the tune of one billion dollars per day through its purchase of US Treasury bills -- 200 billion dollars last year and possibly as much as 300 billion dollars already this year.

    Even though the US State Department has designated the Chinese language "critical" to national prosperity and security, the "current infrastructure to support recruitment of students and teachers as well as the growth of high quality programs is woefully inadequate," an Asia Society study says.

    The Society has set a target of having at least five percent of American high school students learning Chinese by 2015.

    "Millions of Chinese are learning English, but only 24,000 Americans are learning Chinese," said Andrew Corcoran of the San Francisco-based Chinese American International School, the oldest Mandarin "immersion" program in the country.

    The most popular languages after English in US schools at present are Spanish and French. Japanese is the most-sought-after Asian language.

    "Our nation's schools are locked in a time warp," said Charles E.M. Kolb, president of the Committee for Economic Development, a pro-business think tank in Washington.

    "By ignoring critical languages such as Chinese and the essential cultural knowledge needed to succeed, our school systems are out of step with new global realities," he said.

    But US politicians are aware of the seriousness of the issue.

    Two prominent senators have proposed legislation that authorizes 1.3 billion dollars in federal funds over five years for Chinese language instruction in US schools.

    The bill also would increase American consular activity to support rapidly growing US businesses in China and would encourage Internet cultural exchanges between Chinese and American citizens.

    "The rise of China comes with a whole set of challenges. But the ability to talk to and understand each other should not be among them," said Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, who co-sponsored the bill.

  2. #2
    Jacques Rocks! Jungle Boy's Avatar
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    I hope to learn it one day, but first I want to learn German and Japanese. Then Chinese and perhaps French, Spanish and Italian. It all depends.

    It will definatly help in whatever business endevour I may find myself in. Plus it can't hurt for picking up babes (who am I kidding? I never pick up babes)

  3. #3
    The Angel of Justice Zauriel's Avatar
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    I think Chinese would be easier to learn than Japanese or German since Chinese is in the SVO (subject-verb-object) word order as English is. Japanese is SOV (Subject-Object-verb). German uses SOV in sub clauses.

    But someone else debated that it is best for a non-English-speaking person to learn German before learning English.

  4. #4
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    Yeah, sometimes I feel a bit behind the times for having decided to study Japanese (not that I regret it). However, I have started learning Mandarin, albeit very slowly. I guess I could say ‰δ––’nέ›{’†•ΆB Can anyone confirm that that's correct?

  5. #5
    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    I am surprised at the relatively small number 24,000 of students of Mandarin; only roughly 1.2% of the US population. Does the figure include Amrican-born Chinese and young students from recent immigrant families ?
    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn
    Yeah, sometimes I feel a bit behind the times for having decided to study Japanese (not that I regret it). However, I have started learning Mandarin, albeit very slowly. I guess I could say ‰δ––’nέ›{’†•ΆB Can anyone confirm that that's correct?
    I regret for dropping out of my Japanese class just because the Caucasian instructor sounded way to weird to be a near native-speaker, not like my British TA whose Mandarin sounded genuine. Was I too negative or suspicious ?

    Anyway it sounds like you are on the happy path of langauge learning !
    Your sentence sounds right except the έ; which would roughly correspond to the Enlgish prepositions 'at, in' referring to either the physical presence or being imbedded 'in' a surrounding or context. Compounds such as Œ»έ 'right now (present)' or ³έ 'right at, in~, currently ~' can also specify time.

    how about (short): ‰δ––(’n)›{’†•ΆB’n would be formal language; casual speech often drop it.
    or (long version): Ε‹ί‰δŠJŽn›{’†•Ά›{“Ύ–B for "Recently I started to slowly study Chinese.' The construction of repeating the verb ›{ is often used when there is an object ’†•Ά, esp. if the object is long. V+O+V+“Ύ+adverb. In this case the object isn't long, but somehow it sounds better that way. Perhaps Quiet Sunshine, TonySoong, or some other Chinese member can give a genuine native speaker's view on this.

  6. #6
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    Only 24,000 is quite a surprising statistic indeed. It's no wonder that Chinese language courses at universities advertise by saying that if you learn Chinese you'll be able to speak with one billion people, but it apparently isn't having too much of an effect.

    I certainly agree that learning Chinese is a good career move for anyone, not just Americans, because the way things are looking now Chinese will be the next global language. It looks like Chinese will be replacing Spanish as the most learned language in high school in the next decade or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by lexico
    Anyway it sounds like you are on the happy path of langauge learning !
    Your sentence sounds right except the έ; which would roughly correspond to the Enlgish prepositions 'at, in' referring to either the physical presence or being imbedded 'in' a surrounding or context. Compounds such as Œ»έ 'right now (present)' or ³έ 'right at, in~, currently ~' can also specify time.

    how about (short): ‰δ––(’n)›{’†•ΆB’n would be formal language; casual speech often drop it.
    or (long version): Ε‹ί‰δŠJŽn›{’†•Ά›{“Ύ–B for "Recently I started to slowly study Chinese.' The construction of repeating the verb ›{ is often used when there is an object ’†•Ά, esp. if the object is long. V+O+V+“Ύ+adverb. In this case the object isn't long, but somehow it sounds better that way. Perhaps Quiet Sunshine, TonySoong, or some other Chinese member can give a genuine native speaker's view on this.
    Thanks for the guidance, lexico. I thought that using έ would show than I'm currently learning in this instance, although I wasn't sure of the position. I also wasn't sure of whether it belonged there in the first place, but my native English intuition said "you need to put the progressive marker in there" so I stuck it in where I thought it would be most logical.

    I didn't know that ’n could be omitted as the pre-verbal adverbial marker, but then again I'm still on the textbook beginner-speak level.

    I had learned the V+O+V+“Ύ+adverb pattern, but the first thing that popped into my head was the duplicated adverb+’n pattern. I guess I've just seen it more with –. Thanks for the refresher.

    I haven't looked at my Chinese books in a while, mostly due to being busy with work and some life changes, so that's why it's ––. I think sometime in the next year or so I'll start taking formal lessons, which should drastically accelerate my rate of learning.

  7. #7
    Regular Member quiet sunshine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lexico
    Your sentence sounds right except the έ; which would roughly correspond to the Enlgish prepositions 'at, in' referring to either the physical presence or being imbedded 'in' a surrounding or context. Compounds such as Œ»έ 'right now (present)' or ³έ 'right at, in~, currently ~' can also specify time.
    The usage of "έ" is ok here, "έ" has the meaning of "right now", see:
    你έŠ±Y么? What are you doing?
    ‰δέŠΕ书. I'm reading.
    I think "‰δέ––’nŠw’†•Ά" would be better.

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    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    Ohh, thanks, both of you. My hard-learned Chinese has gotten rust, I can see. Really appreciate this moment of learning; back from my text book I've mislocated !
    ‰δέ—vΔŠw’†•Ά !

  9. #9
    Villain Iron Chef's Avatar
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    I'd like to take up Chinese at some point. 1.5 billion (or whatever the current pop. is) people can't be wrong. 8-)

    Taken from the article:

    "Americans have been the world's most successful students and entrepreneurs for the past century.

    I disagree... we aren't as clever as we would like to believe, although we have certainly made plenty of strides. But I digress...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiet sunshine
    The usage of "έ" is ok here, "έ" has the meaning of "right now", see:
    你έŠ±Y么? What are you doing?
    ‰δέŠΕ书. I'm reading.
    I think "‰δέ––’nŠw’†•Ά" would be better.
    I thought that might be the case, but I've only seen it next to the verb from what I can remember, so I went with that. ŽΣŽΣ你Cquiet sunshine¬ˆ·!

  11. #11
    Regular Member quiet sunshine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn
    I thought that might be the case, but I've only seen it next to the verb from what I can remember, so I went with that. ŽΣŽΣ你Cquiet sunshine¬ˆ·!
    •s‹qŸƒ!
    Hm, we did exercises like extending or contracting sentences when we were kids, I think it's a useful way to make sentence structure more clear.
    ‰δέŠw’†•Ά==>‰δέ<––’n>Šw’†•Ά
    ‰δέŠΕ书===>‰δέ<认^’n>ŠΕ书

    Quote Originally Posted by lexico
    ‰δέ—vΔŠw’†•Ά !
    Lexico san, this sentence has a small problem.
    ‰δ—vΔŠw’†•Ά,or ‰δ现έ—vΔŠw’†•Ά is ok.
    Your grammar knowledge is richer than mine, so I'm sure I don't need to struggle to use my poor English here.
    Last edited by quiet sunshine; Aug 3, 2005 at 17:56.

  12. #12
    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiet sunshine
    exercises like extending or contracting sentences when we were kids, I think it's a useful way to make sentence structure more clear.
    ‰δέŠw’†•Ά==>‰δέ<––’n>Šw’†•Ά
    ‰δέŠΕ书===>‰δέ<认^’n>ŠΕ书

    Lexico san, this sentence has a small problem.
    ‰δ—vΔŠw’†•Ά,or ‰δ现έ—vΔŠw’†•Ά is ok.
    Thanks for all the learning you give me. Some things I never got right, so I'm glad I get those corrected now, not never.

  13. #13
    Government Man Doc's Avatar
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    I want to learn Cantonese not Mandarin damnit!

    Doc
    "Rather than offer you the illusion of free choice, I will take the liberty of choosing for you... if and when your time comes round again. I do apologize for what must seem to you an arbitrary imposition, Dr. Freeman. I trust it will all make sense to you in the course of... well... I'm really not at liberty to say. In the meantime... this is where I get off." -G-man

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    Economist in Residence lonesoullost3's Avatar
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    I want to learn so many languages - but I'm starting with Japanese (I lost my Spanish...I was fluent at one point). When I tell people I'm majoring in Asian Studies, they always say "you should study Chinese." Of course it's the smart business move right now - it's going to be the biggest market in coming years (though, once India opens up a bit more China will be a thing of the past, but still profitable). But I choose to study what I love - and that's Japanese, not Chinese. Am I highly interested in learning Mandarin (and Cantonese, and Hokkien, etc.) - yes! But just because it's the "smart career move" doesn't mean it's what I want to do.

    And as far as difficulty of languages: the institute in Washington state (I can't remember the name) that trains American Diplomats in languages has a 5 level rating system with 5 being the hardest. Hindi and Arabic are both rated as level 5 languages. Russian, Mandarin, and Japanese are rated as level 4 languages.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonesoullost3
    Of course it's the smart business move right now - it's going to be the biggest market in coming years (though, once India opens up a bit more China will be a thing of the past, but still profitable). But I choose to study what I love - and that's Japanese, not Chinese. Am I highly interested in learning Mandarin (and Cantonese, and Hokkien, etc.) - yes! But just because it's the "smart career move" doesn't mean it's what I want to do.
    True. From what I hear India and China are the next big global economies. It makes sense that India would be a major contributor due to all of the outsourcing there.

    As far as learning for career goes, I completely understand. It's not like I started learning Japanese so that I could be an international economics guru -- I just enjoyed learning the language. I started learning Mandarin for the same reason: I enjoy it and it seemed like a logical step from Japanese, considering lots of Japanese words and the writing system come from Chinese in the first place. The decision to learn Mandarin was due to its widespread use. I hope some day to make it as far as Korean as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by lonesoullost3
    And as far as difficulty of languages: the institute in Washington state (I can't remember the name) that trains American Diplomats in languages has a 5 level rating system with 5 being the hardest. Hindi and Arabic are both rated as level 5 languages. Russian, Mandarin, and Japanese are rated as level 4 languages.
    That's interesting, and a bit contradictory to what I've heard and read about Arabic. From what I've gathered, it seems that it's about the same as any Romance language in that it has masculine and feminine nouns that inflect for case and number, the syntax is the same, and the writing system is phonetic. Where does Cantonese rate? I would guess it's a level 5 language due to the five extra tones (compared to Mandarin). That would suggest that phonetics play a part in Arabic being a level 5 language as well. I'm intrigued now -- I want to know their criteria for rating difficulty.

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    Your Goddess is here Ma Cherie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc
    I want to learn Cantonese not Mandarin damnit!

    Doc

    You know, from I've learned Cantonese and Mandarin are so different that it's been debated as to weather they should be different languages. Goodness learning all these languages is exciting, isn't it? Well, I'm sticking with Japanese and French, but I think it would really make much more sense for Americans to learn Spanish due to the growth of the Hispanic population. The question is, which Spanish should we learn? Mexican Spanish, Porter Rican?
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    The Hairy Wookie Mycernius's Avatar
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    When you say Chinese, which one? Incidently, there are more people learning English in China, at any one point, then there are people in the US.
    I wouldn't mind giving Chinese a go, but it would be more into reading it, after all that is what started my interest in learning Japanese (going very slowly at the moment)
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    #1 procrastinator masayoshi's Avatar
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    The phrase "Learn Mandarin Chinese because China will become important later" has been hammered into me poor head countless of times when I was small by parents and relatives. But as any child, did I listen to the grown-ups? No, eh

    Well not really since I did learn it lightly but it's gone very rusty now. Lack of practice. I think it'll be more useful for me to get fluent in it than learning Japanese. I was so interested in learning Japanese a few months ago but when I think about it, why would I spend time on it if it's not going to be really useful in the future?

    Saying that you learn a language just because you want to seems a bit off. Well at least if you're not going to live in the country. Such motivation may be temporary and motivation too easily lost. That's my case with Japanese now. It's simply not very widespread

    I'm wondering. Can someone actually learn Cantonese as a language? Is it taught formally? If not, then I guess the only way to learn is to go live in Hong Kong. Do you think local Chinese dialects may soon die out because of Mandarin being taught at school or the influence of HK movies?

    OK sorry if I'm digressing

  19. #19
    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    You have good points about motivation and practical use; but is there a specific reason your are more interested in Cantonese rather than Mandarin ?
    Quote Originally Posted by masayoshi
    Do you think local Chinese dialects may soon die out because of Mandarin being taught at school or the influence of HK movies ?
    AFAIK most regions of China have been bi-/multi-lingual for around 50 yrs. When the PRC had the schools teach Mandarin to all school children, the people in the majority of regions were speaking either a non-Mandarin Chinese language or a dialect of Mandarin. As a result most people are more or less bilingual; ie. speaking Mandarin in school and official settings, while speaking their dialects in non-official settings. Although there must have been certain interaction between the local languages and Mandarin, that would not amount to Mandarin replacing the indigenous languages, whether a dialect of Mandarin, a non-Mandrin Chinese, or a non-Chinese language.

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    Fire Star Man -Rudel-'s Avatar
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    Interesting thread guys.

    I definately will take this into account when I head to college.
    Especially since I am going into the Technical Fields.
    I Listened Too:

  21. #21
    #1 procrastinator masayoshi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lexico
    but is there a specific reason your are more interested in Cantonese rather than Mandarin ?
    I think you misunderstood me. I was just wondering if Cantonese or any other dialect can actually be learnt formally or not. Like in books, etc

    AFAIK most regions of China have been bi-/multi-lingual for around 50 yrs. When the PRC had the schools teach Mandarin to all school children, the people in the majority of regions were speaking either a non-Mandarin Chinese language or a dialect of Mandarin. As a result most people are more or less bilingual; ie. speaking Mandarin in school and official settings, while speaking their dialects in non-official settings. Although there must have been certain interaction between the local languages and Mandarin, that would not amount to Mandarin replacing the indigenous languages, whether a dialect of Mandarin, a non-Mandrin Chinese, or a non-Chinese language.
    Thanks for the clarification

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