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jkhsu

Is Learning Chinese a Bubble?

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anonymoose

There's no need to get so defensive about it. My question wasn't an implied judgement or criticism. I was merely curious as to how a non-native Chinese speaker can get their children to learn Chinese, and in particular keep up their motivation, when even native Chinese speakers living abroad often have difficulties in this area. I didn't look for any data or refences as this is an informal discussion forum, not an academic symposium. At least from my own experience, language courses at universities in China have copious numbers of second-generation overseas Chinese trying to remedy their Mandarin (and these are just the ones who are motivated - there must be many more who aren't, and never learn).

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gato

People send their kids to Chinese private immersion schools because they simply can afford it. Why not? it's icing on the cake when the school already has a good English and Math program. They are not concerned about their kids chinese level. They just want to give them the basic foundation so they can persue it later if they wished to. Some of the parents have lived in Asia without knowing any Chinese. Monlinguals can be nuts about their kids knowing more than 2 languages, enrolling them in 2 foreign languages classes when they are young. They are rarely successful.

American elementary schools are not at all demanding academically, so adding a foreign language is probably a good thing and easy to accommodate. If the demands of the other subjects were more rigorous, then adding the second language would be more difficult.

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xiaocai
I was merely curious as to how a non-native Chinese speaker can get their children to learn Chinese, and in particular keep up their motivation, when even native Chinese speakers living abroad often have difficulties in this area.

Not too hard if the parents think it is beneficial to the kids, I think, just like how Chinese parents in China getting their kid to learn English and many other foreign languages.

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Altair

I must say that my experience of second generation Spanish, Chinese, and French speakers where I live in the U.S. is that there is tremendous language loss unless the parents put forth extraordinary effort. The typical situation is that the kids are addressed by the parents in their native language, but the kids respond in English, unless their parents are nearly monolingual. If you have not been schooled in a language, it takes a lot of effort to gain any sophistication in it.

As for the usefulness of foreign languages, I reached my current place in my career path through knowledge of Spanish. One minor plus is that I can read emails and do minor editing to training materials written in Mandarin, since I can use a dictionary and do not have time pressure. Being able to make a tiny bit of small talk hasn't hurt either.

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jkhsu

This is funny. But seriously, I wouldn't learn Chinese just to decipher notes like these. I'd do what the OP did and ask this forum!

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feihong

If I wasn't already learning Chinese, I would start learning Chinese just to decipher crazy notes like this.

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Meng Lelan

If I wasn't already learning Chinese, I would start learning Chinese just to decipher crazy notes like this.

I know what you mean, I would learn any language that readily lends itself to crazy notes for us to decipher. But the OP for that crazy note only posted twice so I guess the guy never came back here to continue his quest towards Chinese learning.

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Erbse

Gato wrote:

Advantage for what? English is pretty the only language that carries a definite career benefit when learned as second language. All other languages are better approached as a hobby if you are learning it as a foreign language. Is this hobby a bubble? Probably.

I'm living at the German-French border and you can find a lot of jobs that require English+French+German.

In Europe there are several languages and each of them has several million native speakers. There is demand for language skills other than English. And I'm sure that's also true for other places where regions with different languages are next to each other.

Learning your neighbors language has been popular in Europe for quite a while. And because it's such a usual thing here, when companies want to make business with a nearby country they don't think "translator" they think "hire with language skill".

With Chinese the situation is totally different. There are to few people with Chinese + skill X. Companies that want to do business with China think "translator" from the first moment, because they know finding someone with skill X + Chinese is like looking for a needle in a haystack. As a Chinese learner with ambitions to make use of Chinese at work, you need to find these 2 persons. The person with skill X and his translator and grab this job. Furthermore, the more people are learning Chinese, the more useful Chinese will be for you. Companies will stop thinking translator, they start thinking to hire someone with skill X + Chinese. To increase demand, you should increase supply.

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imron
so I guess the guy never came back here to continue his quest towards Chinese learning.

Quite likely he was scarred for life :D

For another reason why it's important to learn Chinese, I refer you to this old thread.

There's also this post from 5 years back.

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jkhsu

There's also this post from 5 years back.

These reasons are clearly to promote the 1MonthChinese learning site and it's this exact type of thread that got me to create this thread which tells more about the truth of learning Chinese vs. the "fad". I should have probably put this link in my original post to explain the "fad" that I was trying to refute. Thanks for the evidence.

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gato
I'm living at the German-French border and you can find a lot of jobs that require English+French+German.

But do these tri-lingual applicants tend to be ethnically German French who consider both French and German to be their native languages (I've known someone like this)? Or are there also a large number of Germans who speak French fluently enough to use French as a working language?

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yhemusa

Without knowing Chinese language, you will have to believe or disbelive all that opinion and report about China when you have not possessed even the basic facts . You will have to make your judgement without foundation in reality. You will never really understand what Chinese are thinking about and what they will do. Language is the bridge to different people and their idea.

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Areckx

Reading the OP and going through the replies, I can feel the general consensus is that those that think they will have some sort of "advantage" will be left with a burst bubble.

In my experience, there are a few types of language learners.

1. The Hobbyist

Basically, most people who study languages, especially Chinese, fit into this category. These are people who aren't betting their entire career on the fact that they know another language or not. People in this category enjoy challenging themselves, learning new things, and meeting new people.

2. The Linguist

Tongue placers who use ridiculous vocabulary and never truly learn the language. (In my opinion)

3. The Communicator

Someone who is striving to become a business owner, and wishes to become fluent enough to have a REAL conversation with people who speak languages other than English as a first language.

4. Me ^_^

I am pursuing a career in interpreting and translation, and besides my personal interest in the language, I feel that my resume would be incomplete without a language spoken by over a billion people. I am becoming more advanced in Japanese, and am also working on Spanish, but there are many people who are comfortable speaking Mandarin since it is their first language,

Sure, you COULD run a business without learning the language, but there's some kind of warm, fuzzy feeling that happens when someone makes an attempt to learn your own language beyond a few catchphrases.

EDIT:

I am liking this thread.

To me language is meant for communication, then it's more usefull to learn a language that is spoken by a billion people than a language that is (about to go) extinct.

Japanese is not going extinct, at least not if I have anything to say about it...

Anyway, I think it's funny that people are placing so much emphasis on whether or not it is useful to have a language. This is why I think many people are just learning because it's trendy, rather than any true interest in the language, and they will give up unless they find a way to become motivated, i.e. become passionate for the language.

I know I'm very skilled with computers, or at least very comfortable using programs and searching the internet. I've been doing it since I was 11 years old. (23 now)

I think we all need to find our niche in life, and I discovered that I wasn't going to be a huge rockstar, at least not without the amount of time practicing, and would have never become humble if I didn't start learning Japanese.

In order to become a real musician, you either have to be so likeable that people eat you up no matter how much ego you have, or you have to become so humble that you're speaking straight from your heart, and practice so much that you are able to translate what is inside your heart into music that people can relate to.

So yes, it's a fad, and it'll die out once people go past "ni hao"

I DO support schools adding immersion programs, however. If parents want their child to learn a language, school is an excellent place to start. I ALSO BELIEVE that the parent needs to play an active role in their child's lives and education, so I don't feel that school should do 100% of the work(as many people keep expecting the schools to do... read the newspapers lately? haha)

Bottom line? Learning a language takes years of dedication, even if it's 30 minutes a day. Sure, you could spend 4~16 hours a day like me(wow I never really thought about it, but I guess I forget) but I only do it because I plan on basing my entire career around communication and translation, and I also have computer skills!

It's just not a good idea to put ALL of your eggs in one basket. I was a drummer for a "band" last year, and the leader/guitarist had severe mental issues, and since I had nowhere to stay, I had to stay on his couch. Long story short? It wasn't working out. He dedicated ALL of his time to becoming "a famous rockstar" and it only led him into a hole, especially since he is impatient. He chain smokes cigarettes and marijuana, and beats his dog.

It's because he is so insistent on "becoming famous" rather than letting the fame come naturally. He would stop practicing if he broke a string(which he did frequently because he picked too hard... I'm a guitarist too, and I didn't like how he was treating his guitar...)

I stated once that I liked wearing sweapants, so he started looking for sweatpants online to buy in bulk because "it's going to be your image"

We spent so much time planning the fame rather than practicing, and I was often sitting there on the drums waiting while he and the bassist discussed the future. He is his good friend, so he supported him, but we really needed to practice, we sounded like garbage.

He put all of his time and energy into JUST THIS ONE ALBUM rather than open his mind to the world around him, and let the music come naturally. He was basically becoming way too technical, when the first part of being a musician is practice, practice, practice! The technical stuff comes when you've already put thousands of hours into the music.

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Silent
Reading the OP and going through the replies, I can feel the general consensus is that those that think they will have some sort of "advantage" will be left with a burst bubble.

I'ld rather say that the consensus recognizes the benefits of learning a language/Chinese but that the expectations should not be set too high when it comes to career benefits.

In my perception number 3 does barely (not) exist. I never heard of someone learning a language because he wanted to start a business. In my experience the other way around does happen quite regularly. They start a business and find that they lack language skills so they start learning the language.

In my perception there are 3 types of language learners.

1. People that learn a language for general career perspective. This group consists mainly of students, often it's compulsory as they need the language to obtain a diploma.

2. People who just like to learn another language as a hobby. However they usually have other motivations/benefits on the back of their minds.

3. People that find themselves in a position where they 'need' a certain language skill. E.g. the business man that thinks the need of a translator for every titbit is a nuisance or the employee that finds his company is bought up by a foreign company.

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Scoobyqueen
1. The Hobbyist

Basically, most people who study languages, especially Chinese, fit into this category. These are people who aren't betting their entire career on the fact that they know another language or not. People in this category enjoy challenging themselves, learning new things, and meeting new people.

]

Would you not agree though that some students of Chinese are quite introvert (for a language student) when compared to other languages? Maybe it is to do with having to be more studious I think there are some types that thrive on other things than communication which might be things like characters which require a different part of the brain.

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jkhsu

Would you not agree though that some students of Chinese are quite introvert

I think the serious ones (those who are intermediate to advanced) are for sure because most of the time they are reading and remembering characters instead of chatting.

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xiaotao

I've been told by Chinese teachers that an introvert personality is the right kind of personality to learn Chinese. She was speaking of children. I find that to be true in my kids. Being introverted is not valued in west.

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gato
Would you not agree though that some students of Chinese are quite introvert (for a language student) when compared to other languages? Maybe it is to do with having to be more studious I think there are some types that thrive on other things than communication which might be things like characters which require a different part of the brain.

I think you'd find most Westerners who are interested in East Asian cultures tend to be more introverted than their peers. East Asian cultures tend to be more introverted, which is a point of attraction for some Westerners.

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