â€œLanguage is inextricably entwined with our mental life–our perceiving, our remembering, our attending, our comprehending, our thinking–in short, all of our attempts to make sense of our experience in the world.â€ (Lindfors, 1991, p.8)
Just like you, I am a big fun of bilingual education, bilingual parenting, and bilingual life. As a native Chinese, I am so glad to see more and more non-Chinese speakers are learning Chinese.
In my opinion, all children, whose native tongue is not Chinese, should learn Chinese as second language. Learning Chinese will give the younger generation a sharp-edge advantage in every aspect of their future life, strategically, culturally, and practically.
1. China is rising: The world is changing fast â€“ and China is one leader. China is the second largest economy in the world after that of the United States with a GDP of $7.8 trillion in 2008. Its red-hot economy has remained a double-digit growth for more than a decade (a better-than-expected 7.9% GDP growth in the second quarter of 2009 even during this deep recession).
Per capita income has grown at an average annual rate of more than 8% over the last 30 years, and a few analysts are even predicting that the Chinese economy will be larger than that of the U.S. by 2020.
Backed by this impressive economic growth, China is emerging as one of the world greatest powers. Its international influence has grown substantially. China will continue to play a major role in world affairs in the new century.
To take advantage of this huge economic shift and opportunities, learning Chinese is a great way to give your children a sharp advantage in this increasingly competitive and uncertain world.
2. Join the global community â€“ Believe it or not, the majority of the world does not speak English, but Chinese. Chinese language is the number one spoken language in the world, with more than 1.3 billion speakers worldwide. Among them, about 885 million speak Mandarin, China’s official language and dominant dialect.
Chinese-language speakers not only live in mainland China and Taiwan, but also spread throughout Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia.
3. Better understand Chinese culture. Unlike most languages, Chinese has a unique ideographic writing system, which provides visual comprehensibility. The grammatical structure of Chinese is not only logical, but also pragmatic, related to the particular way of Chinese thinking. Learning Chinese opens up the culture of one of the world’s oldest civilizations.
4. Make life easier: China has been USâ€™s top 1 trading partner for years (the newest total trade volume is $333.7 billion in 2008). It is the world’s second-largest consumer market, soon to be the first.
Ninety percent of Fortune 500 top global companies already have presence in China. By July 2009Â 37 China-landed firms landed on the list of Fortune 500, an all-time high. Experts predict one-fifth to a quarter of the biggest global players might be Chinese in five to 10 years. Furthermore, China is maturing from the factory of the world and moving up the technology food chain.
As China continues to open to the world, learning Chinese will enable your children more employment opportunities in various fields such as business, government, international relations, information technology, tourism, education, translation and much, much more.
Besides, being able to communicate in Chinese and understanding the local way of life will make the business and personal trips to China more convenient and fruitful.
There are one thousand reasons more for why children should learn Chinese. But to us parents, one reason is enough: you want to lay down the best foundation for your little one’sÂ future, right?
After words: After I finished this article, I happened to run across Jim Rogersâ€™s 2007 book: A Bull in China: Profitably in the World’s Greatest Market.
In this indispensable book, one of the worldâ€™s most successful investors, Jim Rogers, tells his readers frankly: â€œjust as the nineteenth century belonged to England and the twentieth century to America, so the twenty-first century will be Chinaâ€™s turn to set the agenda and rule the roostâ€¦ the very best advice of any kind that I can give you is to teach your children or your grandchildren Chinese. It is going to be the most important language of their lifetime.â€ Â Â Â Â
Gavin Immer (2007). Interview with Wang Lao Shi (Mrs. Rose Healey), Chinese Teacher, retrieved from the World Wide Web: http://www.fwhsfocus.com/fall2007/chineseinterview.htm
Lindfors, J. W. (1991). Childrenâ€™s language and learning (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Rogers, J (2007): A Bull in China: Profitably in the World’s Greatest Market, Random House: New York.
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