Chinese is a fascinating, unique, and extremely rich language. Counting roughly 1.2 billion native speakers, it is the most spoken language on earth. Not only this, but China’s rise as a global superpower is making it an increasingly significant means of communication for people in Asia and beyond. These two reasons alone should be enough to convince you to learn Chinese… but if not here are some more!
For Westerners, Chinese is not an easy language to master. There’s no doubt that it’s an academic and linguistic challenge, especially for those coming from an Indo-European language background. Such learners find the challenges of Chinese lie in the character writing system and the 4 tones of pronunciation. However, the lack of declensions, verb conjugations, articles, or tenses make it much easier to learn. That, and its basic sentence structure is extremely similar to English, and its linguistic syntax is very logical.
The English language uses tones, but often only to distinguish the context of an entire sentence. For example, our tone raises when we ask a question in English. On the other hand, Chinese uses one of four tones for nearly every word in the language. Thankfully, every word in the Chinese language has a Roman alphabet equivalent; known as Pinyin, this system helps you pronounce characters and makes the learning experience a bit easier. It's definitely a challenge to master Chinese, but with the proper teaching methods, anybody can do it!
Whether you get the opportunity to travel abroad for business or pleasure, learning about a new culture is an exciting experience. However, to fully appreciate a foreign lifestyle, it is necessary to study the language. Chinese is no different. Similar to every other language, Chinese contains words, phrases, and expressions that reflect culturally significant traditions, values, and ideas that just cannot be expressed correctly through a translation. Through learning Chinese, you’ll develop an understanding of the history behind words, phrases, and the characters.
At this point, just about everyone in the world has heard about China’s rapid economic growth and the country’s newfound significance in the world economy. The demand is high and growing for those with “China experience”, including professionals with an understanding of Chinese culture, language skills, or Chinese industry knowledge. For young professionals taking their first steps into the job market, it's vital to differentiate yourself for employers to notice you – what better way to do it?
Learning Chinese will provide you with an excellent opportunity to get ahead of your colleagues and attract the attention of hiring managers. To enhance your CV/résumé, you should consider taking the HSK exam; the standardized international Chinese proficiency test for non-native speakers. This exam tests your knowledge in applying the Chinese language in all aspects of life, and it’s a fantastic addition to your CV/resume. There’s little doubt that completing even a lower level HSK exam will help you to stand out from the crowd.
If a German, a Spaniard, and an Italian have a business meeting, it’s likely they’ll use English to communicate. While often still the case in Asia, Chinese is slowly replacing English as the primary business language in many countries. This is mainly down to China’s role as the main trading partner for many Asian countries. Outside of China, Mandarin Chinese is the main language spoken in Taiwan, and it’s a common means of communicating in financial hubs like Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore. Evidently, being able to speak Mandarin is an increasingly valuable skill for anyone looking to do business with businesses across Asia.
What better way is there to learn Chinese than by going to China? China boasts one of the world’s oldest civilizations, richest cultures and an interesting history. Learning Chinese will allow you the opportunity to discover the endlessly fascinating lives of over one billion people. Exploring the populous cities and traditional villages throughout the country is one of the most culturally enriching adventures one can take. Learning Chinese enables you to visit foreign places, eat new foods, and absorb new traditions. Traveling to China to learn Chinese will offer unparalleled learning opportunities for those serious about mastering the language. Living in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, or Chengdu will grant you an unlimited amount of learning opportunities, as you are pushed to use your Chinese in your daily life.