I figure I should also include a serious post about Chinese language here as well. The following passage is by Saul Gitlin who wrote an article entitled, “Time to Start ‘Talking the Talk’…In Chinese” for Multicultural Marketing Resources (MMR):
While it is true that Chinese language instruction in this country has been developing since I was a student in the 1980’s, the inroads in our educational system have still been fairly modest when viewed against the backdrop of China’s emerging role on the world stage. A current online search on Peterson’s (www.petersons.com) – branded as the ‘most comprehensive and heavily traveled education resource on the Internet’ – turns up 76 American colleges and universities where a student can pursue an undergraduate major in Chinese, versus 1,044 for Spanish, 862 for French, and 572 for German. And while Chinese-language education at the middle school and high school levels has shown some growth in the last 15 years (particularly in geographies with large concentrations of Chinese American students – often referred to by foreign language teachers as ‘heritage speakers’), the availability of Chinese classes in our public school system pales next to that for major European languages. This was underscored by the July 12, 2005 release of the Asia Society report, Expanding Chinese Language Capacity in the United States, which revealed that only 24,000 7th-12th grade students across the country study Chinese – a language spoken by 1.3 billion people worldwide – versus more than a million students at the same grade level who study French, a language spoken by only 80 million people.
Okay, so he spews a few statistics saying Americans need to be learning Chinese. Well, here in China, I’m at a university that says the Chinese need to start learning English. If someone has some stats on that, I’d love to hear them. For now, I tell my students you learn English, I’ll learn Chinese and we’ll live happily ever after.