Why Study Languages?
Over one billion people speak Chinese. That’s one out of
every five people or more than any other language in the world.
The Chinese civilization is over 6000 years old.
Its language is the key to the accumulated knowledge and experience of
one the world’s oldest and richest cultures.
Mandarin Chinese is one of the daily languages of the people who live
in Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, and the overseas Chinese
China has the world’s largest
population and the fastest growing economy and holds great potential as
a market for U.S. goods.
The teaching and learning
of Chinese language is vital in American education. Chinese is the
sixth most commonly taught language in post-secondary institutions in
the U.S. (According to the Modern Language Association
China is emerging as a major player in the
world scene. This has created a need for greater understanding of what
is the world’s most populous nation. Successful communication in
Chinese is the key for promoting a better understanding of
The United States government has designated
America’s relations with China to be one of the most important foreign
policy issues now and in the foreseeable future.
Chinese is one of the four "critical languages" for
Americans. The promotion and development of Chinese language education
is of critical importance to the United States in terms of both
economic advantages and the national interest in the dynamic global
community of the 21st century.
U.S.-China relations are continuing to increase the Chinese presence in
Taking Chinese not only
satisfies a language requirement but it could be the greatest asset to
anyone's career background. There are many opportunities for government
and business careers as well as for scientific, scholarly, and cultural
exchanges for students of Chinese.
immigrants, and Chinese-Americans are all becoming more involved in all
facets of the American society, including business, education, the
arts, and various services in the community. Being able to communicate
with and better understand these community members is a benefit in our
Mandarin is spoken by more
than two-thirds of the Chinese population. It is the official medium of
school and all other governmental organs for the purposes of
Chinese is a member of
the Sino-Tibetan language family, and is distantly related to languages
such as Burmese and Tibetan.
There are many
different spoken dialects of the Chinese language, but only one common
written language (Chinese characters) that is used to communicate
effectively between speakers of different dialects in
The sound system of Mandarin Chinese is
relatively simple compared to other languages. There are only 405 basic
syllables— less than in English. Chinese is a tonal language; most
Chinese syllables are pronounced with one of four tones. The same basic
syllable pronounced with different tones is likely to have completely
Chinese characters each formed
by a combination of strokes written in a prescribed order, communicate
ideas and words meanings but give only limited information about
pronunciation. There is an alternative way of representing Chinese
speech through the use of phonetic transcription systems intended to
serves as useful tools in the learning of Chinese
About 3000 Chinese characters are in common
use. The largest Chinese dictionaries include over 50,000
Chinese calligraphy is a form of art.
Chinese is one of the few languages that remain
There are a large number of characters
and two different sets of characters (traditional and simplified) in
written Chinese and differences between spoken and written Chinese.
Learning to read and write Chinese takes a long time so that students’
skills are not expected to advance as rapidly as those of students
studying other languages do. A long sequence of learning that begins
early is recommended.
Standards in Foreign Language Education Project. Standards for Foreign
Language Learning in the 21st Century. 1999. Allen Press, Inc.
2. Easton Language Education,
firstname.lastname@example.org, http://eleaston.com/why.html 1998 - 2001
3. Learn.htm Chinese Character Tutor, version 6. Flashware
International, Springboro, OH. 1999. http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/fergab/
4. Chinese courses Home Page, Bowling Green State University,
Bowling Green, Ohio, 2001. http://www.bgsu.edu/departments/greal/Chinese-courses.html