In the first year of the degree of Modern Languages in the University of Deusto, students had to choose what third language they were going to study. The choices were Italian, French, German and Chinese. When I noticed we were going to start from the beginning in all the languages, I decided to take Chinese, a language which is getting more and more important since China has become an important economical power in the world. One of these things which make Chinese so appealing is that according to a report made by The Boston University:
“The study of the Chinese language opens the way to different important fields such as Chinese politics, economy, history or archaeology. But to study Chinese finally means to study a culture, a people”.
We started last year learning Mandarin Chinese at the University, and we have been using the same book for these two years, New Practical Chinese Reader. We have been studying the language for just two semesters, and although we should be studying it for the next year too, for most of us this is our last time because next year we will go on Erasmus. On the other hand, the time I have been learning Chinese has been productive. It is always interesting to start learning a new language, and in this case much more because it is an exotic language. In spite of that, it has not been easy at all because it has not similarities with Occidental languages. It is rated as one of the most difficult languages to learn, the most difficult thing is that the language does not have an alphabet, as we can see in this article written by Davis Moser, who has a doctorate in Chinese Studies by the University of Michigan, he adds:
“Chinese is significantly harder to learn than any of the other thirty or so major world languages that are usually studied formally at the university level (though Japanese in many ways comes close).”
So, if it is so difficult, why study Chinese? There are many reasons to answer this question; firstly, one fifth of the planet speaks Mandarin Chinese. As we continue reading the report mentioned above of the University of Boston, it claims that: “Chinese is good for your career!” as it is the mother tongue of over 873 million people, making it the most widely spoken first language in the world. Another important reason is that China has become a huge market, and business leaders are looking for people who can speak Chinese and operate successfully in a Chinese cultural context. According to An article published by Rosie Wang:
“Learning Chinese not only satisfies our desire to grasp a foreign language but it can also be the greatest asset to career advancement. There are increasing opportunities for government and business careers as well as for scientific, scholarly and cultural exchanges.”
To sum up, Chinese language is becoming more and more useful every day, so it is a very good idea to start learning it now. However, do not think it will be easy or fast, but if you have enough patience and will, you will achieve your objective.
- David Moser, Why Chinese is so Damn Hard (2010), Consulting date: December 20, 2010, from: <http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/moser.html>
- Rosie Wang, 7 Reasons You Should Choose Chinese As a Second Language (2010), Consulting date: December 20, 2010, from: <7 Reasons You Should Choose Chinese As a Second Language>
- Boston University, Why study Chinese? (2010), Consulting date: December 20, 2010, from: <http://www.bu.edu/mlcl/about/why-study/chinese.html>