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UK government promoting Chinese learning


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20 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

IELTS average score 2015 sounds pretty awesome to me.


It is if you have been using Chinese as a medium of instruction. I think the thing to be aware of in Malaysia is that speaking Chinese mandarin and having average IELTS in the same one person is a rarer entity. 

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Thought I would provide an update should people be searching on this topic.


Here I have linked a report about the benefit of learning languages to the UK economy by the British Council. (Nov 2017).




It details Chinese as moving up to 2nd place in priority for language learning and on page 46/ slide 48 it details the success of Chinese programs in UK schools and universities.


Specifically partnership with Confucius institutes and Scottish schools and the progress towards their desired numbers of pupils with GCSE/A-level equivalent “proficiency”.


It also lists the numbers of jobs advertised in the UK requiring Mandarin skills and the rating of the importance of Mandarin to UK businesses.


This is written framed against the political climate in the UK as it becomes more direct in its trade arrangements with countries outside of the EU.

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1 hour ago, AaronUK said:


It also lists the numbers of jobs advertised in the UK requiring Mandarin skills and the rating of the importance of Mandarin to UK businesses.

I know probably nine or ten people who speak Chinese and are employed either here or in China by UK employers who have recruited them specifically because of their Chinese language skills. All of them are native Mandarin speakers. I don't know how much this proportion reflects the general situation. Does anyone know what percentage of jobs requiring good English and Mandarin skills go to native English speakers rather than native Mandarin speakers? The only native English speaking people I know whose work draws on their knowledge of Mandarin are either university lecturers or freelance translators (generally into English). 

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The report lists general Chinese natives English skills as ‘low’. While along the east coast in major tier 1 cities there will be a general good knowledge of English I think it depends on the sector and where this is based will then impact who would be hired. Finance professionals will be sent to shanghai from outside China as an example but in other industries such as export and manufacturing they may choose locals with English skills.

however there are many large cities in China where they will not have a large pool of people with both technical skills and English skills, if you were in a company targeting chongqing for example you may find opportunities. I think actually to find these you do need to be in the right place at the right time already in a multinational or be making your own business. 

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From what I have seen from friends who studied Chinese or were forced to study Chinese for some time by their employers - there is definitely demand in China for foreigners who speak Chinese. I also had a weird finance job in Shenzhen for a while and the whole recruitment process revolved around Chinese skills (and not, for example, skills in Excel or financial product knowledge).


I know two people who worked at Swire (and lived with one of them) and one was an Oxford grad with a Chinese degree (so obviously already pretty good) who then did a scholarship year in Taiwan before working at Swire. The guy I know from London and lived with was a property specialist who got recruited into Swire in HK, then moved to Beijing to do 3 months (I know, 3 months!) of Chinese study before being placed in Chengdu. He carried on learning Chinese and had been learning it halfheartedly in HK prior to that move. 


He left though and is now back in London doing another property job. I think the issue is right there really. If you have a vocational skill you might be in demand in China, but not really have any particular interest in Chinese language or culture - so you won't stay or even really enjoy your time there. Employers can train you to learn Chinese but you'll never like it (I'm sure this guy will never go back to China except as a tourist). 


On the other hand the people who are interested in and motivated to learn Chinese often have no vocational skills but are passionate about the language and culture. They aren't necessarily interested, though, in doing a course in surveying/databasing/electrical engineering.


The Venn diagram of people with vocational skills who are also interested in learning Chinese is really quite a small overlap. 


I think it's probably more common in industries like advertising and law. I know two people with Chinese degrees who work in those industries in China. One is at a big ad agency in BJ and is probably the best Chinese speaker I've ever met, and the other is an associate at a London firm but has a Chinese degree and spent time working in China. I also know a girl in IT outsourcing who has a Chinese degree and worked for a while in Shanghai but is now back in London at a similar firm. I think the reason it's more common in advertising and law is those industries recruit humanities grads (oh the humanities!) that are interested in culture/society/language and so gravitate towards those careers.


It's definitely possible - and people are doing it - just not many!

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She was at Infosys in Shanghai but works at Accenture now in London. TBH her knowledge of IT stuff is pretty bad but her Chinese is good. If you're good at both, you should apply somewhere like that. Also big games companies do a lot of outsourcing to China these days (e.g. Ubisoft in Chengdu).


Depends on your skills I guess but I think these days if you have decent Chinese and programming experience it seems like a good move (i've certainly considered moving back!).

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I think by the nature of it being the most spoken language (ok not widely spoken) in the world is enough reason to promote it. Its great to see. I think it  will help break down barriers and negative views about Chinese people that  some UK folks seem to have. Its amazing how negative, even the educated class in the UK can be about China!

every time I come back I seem to spend more that a fair amount of time dispelling myths and negative views about china. 


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