Jump to content

Orient Expat Friends

Compulsory Chinese Classes


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Jack Fancy

Posted 06 September 2011 - 02:46 AM

I know that Panama makes Chinese compulsory and now a region in Pakistan. The Brighton College in East Sussex also made Chinese compulsory in 2006.  It's probably no surprise that in America, language studies are in steep decline.  The Chinese government is sponsoring many Chinese teachers, helping out with the costs, to teach American children Chinese.

Does anyone know of any other countries and/or schools that make Chinese compulsory?

#2 (Member banned)

Posted 06 September 2011 - 03:28 AM

It's a difference if a certain school makes Chinese compulsory for its students or if this done by a government for all schools.

I hardly expect all people in Panama to speak Chinese in the future.
It's better for them to learn fluent English, as China will hardly give them a job, but USA often does.

In Japan only English is obligatory - and even this makes a lot of problems. Learnt somehow, never used again and forgotten completely.

I think, also Singapore has some schools with obligatory standard Chinese lessons, and the Chinese schools in Malaysia too, despite they use very much English for most subjects.

I am very sceptical about the idea of learning Chinese, as such a knowledge will not be much profitable. It makes only sense if you really can make use out of the Chinese language every day.

There are now so many Chinese people, who can speak English, they are bilingual, grown up with several languages in their past in Singapore, HongKong, Vancouver, London - they keep all these jobs like interpreter, bi-lingual secretary etc. and there is no vacancy.

#3 Jack Fancy

Posted 06 September 2011 - 03:45 AM

Considering that China is the single biggest user of the Panama Canal, making Chinese mandatory in public schools sounds like something that will be useful...

#4 Starseeker

Posted 06 September 2011 - 09:16 PM

*shrug*

I don't really see the point either.  I don't really see the need for other countries to learn Chinese (to make it compulsory) even thought it is some part of my heritage.  In terms of business, most imports into China is still predominately handled by the Chinese side because that's how the laws dictated so.  The 50% thing basically guarantees a lot of foreign companies training their Chinese competitor before getting kicked out of the country anyway.  

Large companies that have exclusive and cutting edge products will have customers no matter where they go.  The only time language will become a issue might be when one actually deals with manufacturing and management.  But even then, speaking the language doesn't really help much, since Taiwanese companies don't see to be able to resolve their management problems any easier than western companies.  A little search on Wired about suicides in the factories that makes Apple products should give a example.  

If I think about this even more deeply, i.e. taking local experiences into consideration.  Dialects and cultures vary widely within China.  Beijingese, Shanghaiese, Cantonese, and Fujianese, (probably should add Hangzhouese and Wenzhouese as well) all form their own cliques and all have their own business practices, quirks and special cultures.  If one wants to do some kind of business locally, I doubt any 2 yrs compulsory Chinese education will help him much (and we all know how kids feel about compulsory things).  

Also, if I were to look at this from the western (i.e. NA) side, if personal experience is any guidance, I doubt there is any real vested interest to learn Chinese from regular students.  I used to be a TA for a specialized language program in the US that gives regular high school children the choice of more exotic language courses (couple with advanced social science classes) in the elective language credits.  Japanese, Russian, Chinese, and Arabic, and the order of popularity is according to that order.  The program was quickly disbanded after I have left the school due to lack of funding.  Of course, I've see the "donated" books from China in the classroom.  They were considered useless.  The only thing those books want to talk about is the glory of CCP.  I felt like I was reading materials from North Korea.  In my pov, those things are done as a cultural p###ing contest CCP has with the west.  Then again, I felt it was fairly hypocritical for the party to talk about the glory of Chinese history, traditions or cultures when it tried its best to eradicate it.  Simplified Chinese gave the party carte blanche to reprint and censor any classics as per their needs.  It's not like the kids can read it old school, right?  

As for Yohan's comments, I also agree.  I sincerely doubt that there will be any huge increase in foreign nationals working for Chinese companies.  If that's the reason for learning it, they will have a tough time competing with Chinese students with English skills.

#5 Uncle Gweilo

Posted 07 September 2011 - 03:07 AM

As Yohan mentioned, Harry LEE Kwan Yew instituted compulsory Mandarin in schools decades ago. What I have yet to find out is if this is across every school on the island. A school that is for Tamils only, if such exists, may be exempt.

I started high school iin Canberra in the early 1970's. Being a territory federally funded, the ACT had much more latitude in designing its school curricula. One notion they had was that Indonesia was right on our doorstep. With a then population of 120 million they would be in need of assistance to develop into a First World nation, and australians should be there to get in on the action. Hence we had several schools offering Bahasa Indonesia. Great for me as this was right after we came home from Singapore where I'd learnt a little Malay. The fact that this hasn't really eventuated may give cause for some caution, but I reckon everyone should have at least some knowledge of a language other than their mother tongue. It makes you a much more rounded person, and also gives you insights into where and how your own language devloped.

#6 Jack Fancy

Posted 07 September 2011 - 10:24 AM

Understanding Chinese culture will come about better through language acquisition and more and more small business owners are getting involved with Chinese.  For bigger businesses, I agree, Chinese at that level usually speak English, anyways.

Since Chinese is a who-you-know setup, it'd be nice to know who they know and what they're saying...

#7 TizMe

Posted 07 September 2011 - 03:51 PM

View PostUncle Gweilo, on 07 September 2011 - 03:07 AM, said:

As Yohan mentioned, Harry LEE Kwan Yew instituted compulsory Mandarin in schools decades ago. What I have yet to find out is if this is across every school on the island. A school that is for Tamils only, if such exists, may be exempt.
I don't think Mandarin is compulsory for all. I believe that students are expected to study their "mother tongue" as well as English.

#8 Uncle Gweilo

Posted 07 September 2011 - 10:45 PM

I think most ethnically Chinese Singaporean kids speak, if only slightly, several languages: English, their mother Chinese tongue (Hakka, Hokkien, Teochew or Cantonese usually), at least part of one or more of the other Chinese dialects, and the Mandarin they're taught at school.

I taught a class of 14-year olds from China here for a couple of days a while back. They were from Guangdong and spoke their own variant of Cantonese, proper Cantonese, Mandarin, were learning English at school, and a couple of them were also taking up French.

Wish i'd taken up opportunities to learn multiple languages as a kid when it would have been so much easier. Now I'm relying on someone developing a USB brain implant that will have language modules in it. And hopefully a lot better than current online translators do. :WTF:

#9 Starseeker

Posted 08 September 2011 - 02:52 AM

Hm.., well, Rosetta Stone is way over priced crap, but the system itself follows pretty closely how I teach adults second languages.  You can look into it, Gweilo.

#10 Jack Fancy

Posted 08 September 2011 - 04:28 AM

I've always thought RS was pretty good, too...

#11 Uncle Gweilo

Posted 08 September 2011 - 07:18 AM

^and ^^. Thanks for the advice.

#12 AnnaSprowls

Posted 30 September 2011 - 06:15 AM

Sindh? Moorhead? Chinese becomes more and more popular. Speakers of Chinese not only live in China, Taiwan, and Singapore, but also spread throughout Southeast Asia, North America, and Europe. So I think {snip} is a wise choice.

Edited by กำนัน, 30 September 2011 - 12:50 PM.
Bye spammer


#13 (Member banned)

Posted 30 September 2011 - 08:19 AM

View PostAnnaSprowls, on 30 September 2011 - 06:15 AM, said:

..... Chinese becomes more and more popular. Speakers of Chinese not only live in China, Taiwan, and Singapore...

The problem is however that Chinese is spoken among Chinese people only.
You can use Chinese only if your contacts are related somewhat with Chinese people.

Travel around this world, regardless if holiday or business, regardless if in America, Africa, Europe and even in Asia and try to make yourself understood in Chinese instead of English with people who are not Chinese .

Another point about business is that Chinese companies are not much interested to employ foreigners because they speak Chinese - they employ foreigners because they speak other languages but Chinese.

I think to study Chinese as a non-Chinese person is not very lucrative. You cannot earn money out of this knowledge, despite of several years of full time studies. There are plenty of bi-lingual Chinese everywhere, there is a huge competition if you apply for any vacancy.

Same can be said about Hindi in India.
There are plenty of Indian bi-lingual people everywhere.
No need therefore to study Hindi.

Of course if you like to study Chinese (or Hindi etc.) out of yourself, for fun or because of international marriage or such a reason, that's fine, but it should not be compulsory.

The same situation you will find here in Japan. Compared to Chinese people, Japanese people are not much interested into foreign languages and there are plenty of jobs for interpreters, translator, bilingual secretaries etc. etc.

However for one vacancy here in Tokyo for any Japanese-English required position expect at least 400 people to show up and to apply for that job. In our office the same. And most of them are pretty good in both languages, often children out of international marriages...
Our requirement is German+English+Japanese (3 languages) and still for the last vacancy we received over 120 applications...

Also let me add, now in Japan, Japanese-Chinese lessons are the lowest paid ones. Too many teachers...or people who claim they can teach...

It's not easy to make an earning out of the knowledge of the Chinese language in Asia as there is a lot of competition.

So why to study Chinese?

Edited by yohan, 30 September 2011 - 08:24 AM.


#14 Starseeker

Posted 30 September 2011 - 12:51 PM

lol, yohan reiterated my point quite succinctly.  Actually, yohan did remind me of the wanted ads in international magazines in Beijing.  Japanese companies were looking for bi/trilingual employees in Beijing and the pay was way better than most Chinese companies.  

That's another thing that foreigners dreaming of riches or a major career from learning Chinese should know.  Chinese companies usually pay like crap and treat their employees like mules.  As a foreigner, you can also get unwanted resentment due to your possible "celebrity" status.  

And it's not like it really helps you that much.  If one takes a quick gander at most of the reports, Taiwanese, HongKongese, Singaporean, American Chinese, Canadian Chinese, etc, and all the ones the mainlanders labels "overseas Chinese", are not considered "real" Chinese by the mainlanders.  Most of them speak the language fluently.  The old joke in China is that a lot of international companies in the 80s or 90s that tried to cash in on the Chinese market basically grabbed whatever Asian looking dude or dudette off their company roster and force them to relocate to their new Chinese office.  It didn't help their business ventures very much, since most of them failed whether they speak the language or not.  

Hong Kong is a prime example of this.  A lot of international companies bought into the Hong Kong's promise as a gate way into China.  China is too crazy, dirty, chaotic, and bureaucratic dense for western companies to handle, so leave it to us, the Hong Kongese.  We are Chinese, but we are educated by the British, so let us handle it.  As a lot of companies found out, that isn't the case at all.  HongKongese companies weren't able to deal with mainlanders any better than foreigners, because they are pretty much foreigners themselves.  A lot of foreign employees stationed in HK were also shocked to find out that their painstakingly learned Cantonese is just one dialect of Chinese, and a lot of mainlanders don't understand them at all.  

I stand by my old assertion in the blog/earlier postings.  You want the fabulous lives portrayed in the movies?  Get some kind of MBA degrees or something or other in a western country and get posted to China as some kind of Chinese expert.  After a few years, you can write a few books about your "rough and tumble" years living in a high rise in Shanghai or Beijing.  I reckon that it's possible to retire after 45-50 without too much trouble.

#15 (Member banned)

Posted 30 September 2011 - 02:56 PM

View PostStarseeker, on 30 September 2011 - 12:51 PM, said:

lol, yohan reiterated my point quite succinctly.  Actually, yohan did remind me of the wanted ads in international magazines in Beijing.  Japanese companies were looking for bi/trilingual employees in Beijing and the pay was way better than most Chinese companies.  

Chinese companies usually pay like crap and treat their employees like mules. As a foreigner, you can also get unwanted resentment due to your possible "celebrity" status.

..... Taiwanese, HongKongese, Singaporean, American Chinese, Canadian Chinese, etc, and all the ones the mainlanders labels "overseas Chinese", are not considered "real" Chinese by the mainlanders.  

We are Chinese, but we are educated by the British, so let us handle it.  As a lot of companies found out, that isn't the case at all.

A lot of foreign employees stationed in HK were also shocked to find out that their painstakingly learned Cantonese is just one dialect of Chinese, and a lot of mainlanders don't understand them at all.  

:bleh:

This list is not complete - let me add the Hokkien-Chinese in Malaysia out of my own personal experience - Luckily I managed to get away from my British educated and very rich Chinese girl 35 years ago.

Yes, you are treated like a mule and receive pay like crap - even (or better say: especially) if the Chinese company in Malaysia belongs to your Hokkien-Chinese girl and to her big family...

Interesting to notice, that nobody in the Chinese family around 1975 in Malaysia could write and read Chinese, even not the members of the Hokkien Trade Chamber in Kedah, all was done in written English. Hokkien Chinese was only used in spoken form, and nobody was interested in studying standard Chinese.

I think, looking back, I made the right choice to change from Chinese language to Japanese language, and to change from a rich Chinese girl to an average Japanese girl around 1975...

When I read your comment, I can laugh, really NOTHING changed during the last 35 years or so with the Chinese on the mainland and with the overseas Chinese somewhere else.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

Copyright © 2014 Orient Expat™
Contact us/Advertise