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Why Learn Chinese?

I've heard from people who say: 'Forget the engineering. Learn the foreign language. If you want a job, the foreign language is going to sell your engineering.'

- Kathryn B. Groth, vice president of the
Frederick school board whose system
will start a Mandarin Chinese program
2006 fall. Washington Post, 2006

China is being mentioned everywhere in relation to everything from business, international affairs -- even the war on terror,... You buy things in the store -- they're made in China. . . "

-Kenneth Lieberthal, professor of political science at the University of Michigan. Washington Post, 2006


More than 1.3 billion people worldwide speak Chinese, and about 885 million of those people speak Mandarin, China's official language and dominant dialect. Come join us and learn Chinese!!!

Chinese is the third most widely-spoken language in the U.S., after English and Spanish. According to the 2000 U.S. Census Report, Chinese Americans are the largest Asian group in the United States, with more than 2.7 million residents. Chinese is almost completely spoken within Chinese American populations and by immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, especially in California.

Many young Americans not of Chinese descent have become interested in learning the language, specifically Standard Mandarin, the official spoken language in the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China on Taiwan. Over 2 million Americans speak some variety of Chinese, with the Mandarin variety becoming increasingly more prevalent due to the opening up of the PRC.

In January 2006, President Bush launched the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI), and unveiled a id="mce_marker"14 million initiative aimed at increasing the number of critical languages, such as Chinese and Arabic, taught in U.S. schools.

Since 1978, China's national gross domestic product has quadrupled. China recently joined the World Trade Organization, and continued economic liberalization has brought with it a powerful influence in international trade. The economy of the People's Republic of China is the fourth largest in the world when measured by nominal GDP. China has become the world's third-largest exporter and third-largest importer, an economic power importing raw materials and scrap from all the world's regions, drawing vast amounts of foreign investment and changing the economic landscape around the world, especially in Asia.

Currently, one in six U.S. jobs is tied to international trade and investment, and over the past decade exports accounted for about 25% of U.S. economic growth. Trade with Asia has surpassed trade with Europe and now exceeds $800 billion per year.

Increasingly leaders across public and private sectors are recognizing the rise of Asia as one of the central facts of the twenty-first century. China, with its tremendous economic growth and emergence as a social and political leader in the region, is fundamental to this shift. Given these changes, the task of increasing the number of American students who can demonstrate a functional proficiency in Chinese is undeniably urgent. Interest in learning Chinese is steadily growing among American youth, but the number of existing school programs is small and the present infrastructure to meet this demand is weak.

Today, the majority of students in China learn English. Yet few students in the United States are being offered the international education needed to participate in this part of the global arena. Fewer than 50,000 students study Chinese, a language spoken by almost 1.3 billion people worldwide. ---College Board (12/03)


What do the Citadel cadets say?
Depending where my career in the military or afterward in the private sector goes, I think it is very important to know Chinese. Over a billion people speak the language. Knowing it probably opens up doors in business, the intelligence community, and the military. ---Judd Hack, 2007

A foreign language, especially Chinese will open doors to any job of any field. ---Luis Barredo, 2007

People should learn Chinese for many different reasons. If you are studying for a business major for instance, learning Chinese would be very helpful because of China's growing influence in the business world. In addition, Chinese is a wonderful language with a extremely historical background. In
learning Chinese, not only will you be learning something that will be extremely helpful in the future, but also something fun as well. ---James Springs, 2007

I'm taking Chinese for multiple reasons. first, I have always wanted to learn an Asian language such as Chinese or Japanese. Also,I think that knowing Chinese will help me in the future if I decide to have a job with a national security agency. China is becoming a bigger superpower, and knowing Chinese could become helpful if I go to China or decide to go into the business world. ---Chasen Glatz, 2007