We have our children drawing the hair of the violin bow
across its strings, mastering foot drills at soccer, and chopping for black
belts at Karate... all these are good, very good. But have we forgotten to make
one of the best investments in their future?
By now, we've all heard that China is the fastest growing
economy in the world, experiencing an economic expansion 3x as fast as the
United States', 4x as fast as Europe's, and 9x as fast as Japan's.
Some of us might even know that Mandarin is spoken by 1/4 of the world's
population, classified as a vital skill in demand by MNC's and designated by
U.S. State Government as a critical language.
Yet, our system remains a bit out of sync with global realities. Let's not hurl
exasperated stones, but channel our energy positively towards rendering our
children the opportunity to take responsibility for their own learning, their
Hawaii Chinese Immersion School
Please read on for extracts around our world:
"Seen as a key skill for people hitching their futures to China's economic rise, Mandarin is becoming common currency, particularly in Asia where trade ties with the Middle Kingdom are supplanting those of the region's longtime primary partner, the U.S. Indeed, because English is spoken so universally, it no longer offers companies and employees the edge it once did."
"If you want to get ahead, learn Mandarin. In many Asian countries, in Europe and the USA, Mandarin has emerged as the new must-have language."
"China is rapidly becoming a world economic power as it opens its doors to foreign investment and expands its infrastructure. Those who know Chinese will be valuable to business."
"The current dominance of the English language poses "serious" economic and political disadvantages. Graduates who speak only English will lose out to multi-lingual workers from other countries."
"People who used to be able to make their way in the world as monolingual English speakers are now finding that they've got to compete with people who are genuinely multilingual." "In London, the parents of most of the non-Chinese students studying Mandarin Chinese are from the finance industry. People in this industry are more in tune with the awareness that China is ‘a big thing’."
"Parents want their children to learn Chinese and be more versatile in terms of job prospects in the future." "The belief is that China is not just a new rival, but a new provider."
"The numbers of teenagers taking Chinese have rocketed."
"Given China’s ever-growing position in the international marketplace, it has never been more important for Europeans to start speaking Mandarin Chinese. In addition to China’s dramatic economic growth over the last decade, global events such as the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the Shanghai World Expo in 2010 will further develop commercial ties between China and Europe."
"This year, UK business leaders have been calling for Mandarin Chinese to be taught in schools and universities and there is a significant requirement for European companies to foster relationships with Chinese businesses and individuals. Mandarin Chinese is currently spoken by more than 1 billion people worldwide and is sure to increase its global exposure over the next decade."
"In South Korea, 160,000 high school and university students are studying the Chinese language, an increase of 66% over the past five years. The number of Japanese secondary schools offering Mandarin more than tripled between 1993 and 2005, and in Japan it's now the most taught foreign language after English. Mandarin is even being pushed within China itself, where hundreds of Chinese dialects can make communication tricky."
"Hawai'i is not immune to the pressures of a struggling U.S. economy. Efforts to seek out and develop new markets for the primary engine of our economy are not only welcome, but a necessary precaution against tough times. Our public should prepare to make more ambitious investments in these emerging (Chinese) markets as well."
"A combination of suicidal economic and social policies imposed on member states by the EU coupled with the startling growth of the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) means that we cannot afford to ignore the development of those nations - and if we are to deal with them in business, we must learn their languages."
"To an extent, this is a case of history repeating itself - with a twist. Just as Americans started studying Japanese in droves in the 1980s, when Japan's economy was ascendant, so today, as China rises, the world is embracing Mandarin."