Why Learn Chinese?
Chinese Language is Academically Important
Chinese language instruction is important academically and professionally and will only become more so in the future. According to a recent survey commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, the number of American middle and high schools offering Chinese language classes increased fourfold from 1997 to 2008.
According to the College Board, publishers of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the Advanced Placement Test (AP) among other tests, the number of students taking the Advanced Placement test in Chinese, introduced only in 2007, has grown so fast that it is likely to surpass German in 2010 as the third most-tested AP language, after Spanish and French. No other foreign language has risen to such importance in American academia in such a brief period of time.
Chinese Language is Becoming Universal
Not surprisingly, much of the recent interest in Chinese language instruction is not from the traditional Chinese American communities, but in places without significant Chinese populations such as the Midwest and the South. Chinese language instruction is also in high demand internationally in places as diverse as South Korea and Mexico.
Chinese Language is Professionally and Socially Beneficial
With China’s rise in the global economy and world affairs and the growing importance of Chinese language instruction in academia such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test Chinese examination and the AP Chinese Language and Culture examination, the demand for Chinese language instruction can only grow in the years to come.
Knowledge of Chinese language and culture can have many benefits to society as well. Americans who understand Chinese language and culture can enhance America's economic competitiveness as well as its political and security interests. Knowledge of Chinese can also be valuable domestically in dealing with the large and growing number of Americans of Chinese descent.
Aside from the competitive value of Chinese language instruction for a child’s future academic and professional success, being bilingual also allows a much richer life experience. Being bilingual in Chinese allows relationships with more than one fifth of all humanity, access to thousands of years of literature and culture, exposure to alternative ways of life and problem solving, and a greater appreciation for one’s native culture though a broader world view.
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