Why are They Learning Chinese?

By: bourne kaloyan

Everybody knows that China is experiencing a period of change, one built upon the back of a phenomenal economic boom, but which has also triggered a chain of social and cultural changes that will be on display for the world to see as we approach the Beijing Olympics.

With businesses now flocking to China, and the generations of immigrants establishing and expanding their niches in foreign lands, the influence of Chinese culture is evident in all the major cities of the world.

While the Chinese people abroad and at home have had to live with their notorious brand of English (known as Chinglish), many second or third generation Chinese immigrants have shed the image of the broken English and now speak as fluently as native speakers. The novelty of the Chinese immigrant speaking fluent English has worn out, and now it is the Westerners that must tackle the language barrier and avoid wearing the tag of speaking broken Chinese.

As outlined above, there are many reasons why one would want to . Something that might surprise people is that many second and third generation Chinese immigrants also want to learn Chinese, because in their haste to adopt the language and culture of their second home, they have neglected their own mother tongue.

So what are the reasons why people want to ? The top 10 reasons put forth here are not in any particular order, because the reasons cited differ invariably depending on the country and the culture.

For the businessmen/businesswomen - the savvy and culturally sensitive generation of business people realize 1) the importance of bridging the cultural and linguistic barriers that have been the bane of doing business with China; 2) the advantage of having capturing information and data from the source of origin, thus avoid the 'Chinese Whisper' effects. Small businesses and websites have also taken advantage of technology improvements to 3) bring their products and services to a wider market.

For translators/interpreters - the influx of immigrants to places such as America, Australia, England and other countries now means that 4) the demand for professional language services are on the increase. There is also an impetus to 5) bring the research of Chinese academics to the Western world, much in the same way that Russian research has been translated and published in Western journals.

For interest groups/people - with the loosening of media and technological regulations and restrictions, the Chinese language and culture has been opened up to more interest groups than ever before. People who are fascinated by the 6) culture and language, as well as those who 7) wish to travel or work in the country and wanting to reduce the impact of the cultural shock are also very keen to .

For second/third generation migrants - with their roots firmly established in foreign countries, they are now 8) trying to recover their language and culture origins, lost when they were busy trying to integrate with their new environment. Also, second/third generation migrants who have retained their language skills want to give their children a head start by teaching them the language early, and wish to 9) fostering a bilingual learning environment.

Last but not least, there are always people who work in the community with disadvantaged and minority groups (such as volunteers and social workers) that use the language skill to 10) improve their communication with those that they help.

Chinese has always been seen as a notoriously difficult language to learn. However, one has rarely considered the difficulties and challenges for Chinese people to grasp English. Where there is a demand or need, there are generally people willing to embrace the challenge in order to reap the benefits and rewards of understanding a second language. Do you fit into one of these profiles?

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