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Should high schools teach Chinese?

In a word, YES!

Why Chinese?  There are 5 main reasons why.

Marketing

Let’s start with enormous, burgeoning market opportunity. With a 10% annual GDP growth rate, the economy in China will double approximately every seven years. The market will get better and better, and people who understand China will be in an advantageous position to work, live, and sell there. Its far better that the USA enjoys this advantage, because if we don’t, the Europeans will. Europeans already speak more languages, have greater passport saturation, and enjoy a trade surplus with China.

Acquisition

Even if you don’t care about China, or Chinese people, or even Chinese food, the chance is getting greater and greater that a Chinese firm can acquire your employer. So imagine if you were a secretary or an engineer working for IBM and the Chinese Hi-tech giant Lenovo buys your firm (as it did when it bought the IBM PC division 2 years ago). Those people with insight to China and language skills will be more likely to keep their jobs.

Diplomacy

With the Chinese military rising, and China becoming what is being hailed as “the next superpower,” we will need to reinforce diplomacy and negotiating skills. Politicians and government personnel, who understand China, understand the future.

Ethnic marketing

Chinese are all over the world. Hence, there are ethnic Chinese speaking markets in Beijing, New York, Toronto, Paris, San Diego, and Cincinnati! (As well as countless other areas).

Key to culture

Language is the single biggest cultural barrier. And even if all the Chinese people one ever meets are fluent in English, language is the key to culture. As we learn there is no word in Mandarin for “yes” or “no,” we learn how Chinese think and negotiate.

While Mandarin, Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, (1 billion speakers) there are over 1500 dialects (that we know of). However, all Chinese characters are written the same way. So if we can’t speak, we can write!

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