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Learn Chinese

The future’s bright…the future’s Mandarin!

Mandarin, or standard Chinese, is spoken as a native language by about 850 million people worldwide (Wikipedia); in other words, by more people than any other language. As China is a country that’s becoming ever more important, both economically and politically, many are now waking up to the usefulness of learning Mandarin. But let’s put aside the career aspect for the moment.  This is a very different kind of language to learn, with a fascination all its own.  Up to now, curricular language learning in schools has been almost entirely restricted to European languages, but this emphasis is destined to change. According to the article below, published in The Daily Telegraph in 2011, many will find the level of difficulty of the language prohibitive:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8776515/The-rise-and-rise-of-Mandarin-but-how-many-will-end-up-speaking-it.html

There is no doubt that this is a recommendation for starting young; as with any other language, children would definitely be at a huge advantage if they start at primary level or even pre-school, just as the Chinese start learning English early. However, Alison herself started learning Chinese as an adult, proving that it's by no means impossible, because she holds a degree in the subject!

Alison wrote the article below for 'The Westfieldian' (produced by The Watford Observer), the school magazine of Westfield Community and Technology College, Watford, where she ran a lunchtime 'Chinese Club' for four school terms. It explains some of the peculiarities of learning Mandarin, so she hopes you find it of interest and that it gives you the desire to find out more!

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