With so many interesting foreign languages to learn, why choose Chinese? Let's consider some of the main reasons you might choose to learn Chinese and the benefits it brings.
1. Mandarin Is One Of The Most Widely Spoken Languages In The World
You probably know that China has the world’s largest population, but did you realise that over 15% of the people in the world speak Mandarin Chinese?
With roughly 1.2 billion speakers, Chinese is one of the world's most widely spoken languages. It’s no exaggeration to say that as a Chinese learner, you’ll be able to find people to practice speaking with anywhere and everywhere.
While most Chinese speakers reside in China, you can also find native speakers in Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan. And since there are millions of Chinese people living all over the world, you may even find native speakers in your local community.
Linda, a reader from Canada (and a fluent Chinese speaker), recently wrote to me about an experience she had when she was backpacking in eastern Germany which highlights this:
On my first day, I found myself stranded at a train station. I only knew beginner German and was relying on English as my main source of communication (because who doesn’t know English these days?) But I soon discovered most locals only spoke either Russian or German. It was getting late, my Airbnb host wasn’t picking up the phone, and the old lady at the information desk waved me away because she didn’t want to deal with me in English. I ended up finding a young Chinese student who I was able to ask for help in Chinese! Apparently, there are so many Chinese expats around the world nowadays that you can find them anywhere, including small, obscure, eastern German towns.
Linda's story highlights that because there are so many Chinese speakers all over the world, you'll discover that you can use the language almost anywhere and it's quite easy to find people to practice speaking with.
2. Chinese Is In High Demand Amongst Employers
From investment banks and technology giants to retail stores in popular tourist destinations, companies everywhere are hiring employees who can speak Chinese to cater to the growing number of Chinese consumers and tourists.
This is because, in the past decade, China has grown to become an economic powerhouse. Its GDP reached a staggering 11.2 trillion USD in 2016, and there are now more billionaires in China than in the United States!
The knock on effect is that an expanding Chinese middle class are going on vacations abroad every year to relax, spend money, and experience new parts of the world.
As an English speaker with fluent Chinese on your CV, the prospects of finding interesting, well-paid work are limitless.
3. You Can Use Chinese To Make More Meaningful Connections With People
The career benefits of learning Chinese are enormous, but sometimes, it may not be the work benefits that attract you to start learning a foreign language!
You learn because it is always an amazing feeling when you meet someone abroad (or in your own community) with whom you share a common language. It gives you a basis to form close friendships and an opportunity to learn about new cultures, perspectives, and different ways of life.
Chinese is a language that will open doors for you and allow you to connect with Chinese people and their culture on a much more personal and meaningful level.
4. Learning Mandarin Gives You Access To Authentic Chinese Culture
Chinese history dates back over 5000 years and has a rich culture of art, music and poetry.
These things can be enjoyed much more authentically when you understand the Chinese language. Not only will you be able to better appreciate these works of art themselves, you'll also have access to texts written about them in Chinese which are not always translated into English.
And besides, the Chinese characters themselves are works of art and apart from reading them, it can be a very satisfying feeling just learning to write them with your own hand.
5. Enjoy An Abundance Of Chinese TV Shows In Their Original Language, Without Subtitles
Can’t wait for the next episode of the Game of Thrones? Why not consider watching some Chinese historical dramas instead?
China has a reputation for entertaining, high-quality TV shows and by learning the language you can enjoy these too.
The 2015 drama, Nirvana In Fire is the latest show to capture the attention of the Chinese audience. The show is an epic tale about a young man seeking revenge for a conspiracy that labelled his family as traitors and has been hailed as the Chinese Game of Thrones.
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