When I was in middle and high school, everyone took either French, Spanish or Italian classes as a second language. If you were lucky, you went to a school that also offered German, Latin and Japanese. Chinese classes, on the other hand, were simply unheard of. Most Chinese American children had to resort to “Chinese schools” over the weekend, which were organized by private Chinese academies or Chinese parents who wanted their children to learn about their heritage.
However, as The New York Times reports, there’s now a drastic rise in the number of schools teaching Chinese as a foreign language. A government survey predicts that about 1,600 public and private schools are teaching Chinese, as opposed to only 300 schools a decade ago. And it’s not just “ABCs” (American Born Chinese) taking interest—reports show that “the mushrooming of interest” stems from areas that don’t have a heavy Asian population. Because of China’s booming economy, many parents think that learning Chinese will help open more doors for their children.
While this is a great option for students, it’s definitely not an easy task to learn Chinese. Even for a Chinese American like me who grew up speaking Mandarin at home, learning to read and write Chinese took a severely arduous effort—laboring over all of those technical strokes and characters and pinyins! But then again, mastering the language as a bilingual Chinese-English speaker, will surely put you on top of the game for scoring an international career.
Photo by Getty, via telegraph.co.uk
Last modified: January 22, 2010