You might be wondering if teaching your children a second language is a good idea, and if you are on this website, you might be wondering if teaching your children the Mandarin language is a good idea…well, I believe emphatically that, YES, your child should be learning to speak Mandarin Chinese.
If you would like to know a bit more about me and why I am at all qualified to hold this opinion, feel free to check out the About page, but if you just want the facts, stick around!
The Top 5 Reasons You and Your Children Need to Learn Mandarin Chinese
1. Because Mark Zuckerberg learns Mandarin.
Why should it matter what one of the most successful CEOs of our day is doing? Because he has the time, resources, and crucial information that many people do not. He is getting ahead of a trend that is going to start trickling down to the general population in the next 10 years (in my estimation), and you should be on that bus too. For what it’s worth, many other famous and wealthy people are teaching their children Mandarin. While the Kardashians are a sure sign we should not be following every celebrity trend, I think learning Mandarin is a real investment in the future. Regardless of your politics, the fact that Donald Trump’s granddaughter is fluent in Mandarin Chinese should be a sign that it is important for our children’s future, but why? Read on…
2. More people in the world today speak Mandarin Chinese than English.
That’s right. You might have a hard time wrapping your head around that statistic. This video about if the world were 100 people breaks it down here. You probably have grown up thinking English is the majority language and is just going to stay that way. Maybe you are well-traveled or have lived abroad and noticed it was relatively easy to get by given most other people know English. But what if they stop? What if they start using Mandarin instead? What if, like you reading this page right now, they know what you and I know and that English could very well become less and less popular as the world’s common language?
3. China is on the verge of another huge wave of economic growth.
Over the past 30 years, China’s economy has grown by leaps and bounds – this is not news. You might be tempted to think now that they are reaching a more level playing field with the rest of the world economically speaking, things will sort of even out while the United States maintains its superiority. That is only true if you underestimate the resources available to China in every way: human resources, cash to invest, education (to wit: China opens a new university every week), relaxation of the one child policy, and the rapid rise of the largest middle class in all of history. All these things are converging right now and have never been seen before. Underestimate the potential in China’s future to your, and your children’s, detriment.
4. Translator apps are no substitute for learning a language yourself.
You might also be tempted to think, “Well, technology is going to take care of any language difficulties for us, I don’t need to really learn to speak Mandarin myself and my kids aren’t going to need it either, because translators are going to get better over time.” I disagree. Machine learning is not at the point where it can translate or communicate culture, humans can barely do that! Language acquisition theorists have long held that learning a second language means acquiring a second culture, that you actually become a different person in a different language. It is not just about the mechanical translation of words, and there are subtleties a machine cannot pick up. As someone who has learned 4 different languages, I can tell you from a purely anecdotal point of view that is true for me. I feel different when I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Serbo-Croatian, or Mandarin. Each culture is different, and the language and culture are inextricably linked. If you aren’t learning both, there is only so much a translator app can help you with.
5. Because it’s just awesome.
I’m a language and education geek and Mandarin is the most fun language I have learned. I love the tones, and as a musician was really intrigued to learn that tonal languages result in more likely acquisition of perfect pitch. I believe Hanzi (the written characters) are beautiful and fascinating), and I love the challenge of learning the language. Some people believe Mandarin is the most difficult language to learn. I cannot say if this is true or not. I think the most important thing to focus on is that it is possible to learn, even if you are teaching yourself and your own kids.
So I hope I have convinced you that learning Mandarin Chinese is one of the most important investments you can make in your children’s future!