What good is it to learn Chinese?
How important will Chinese be in the future?
A few years ago, the Steinke Language Index published a list of the 10 languages that will be of particularly great importance for the global economy in 2025. Not surprisingly: English is and will remain number 1 - even if the media have prophesied in the past that French could become the new world language. Somewhat more surprising is the language that landed in second place: Chinese. So is it time to look specifically for employees who speak this extremely complicated language?
Chinese or Mandarin - What's the Difference?
At this point, one or the other reader may roll their eyes in exasperation and think: “That means Mandarin and not Chinese, everyone knows that by now!” It's like this: Whether you call the Chinese language Chinese or Mandarin, jumped like jumped. Both terms describe the same thing, which is standard Chinese, which is spoken by 845 million people as their mother tongue. They live primarily in these countries:
- People's Republic of China
Chinese language info.
Learn more about the Chinese language in Langwhich.com's linguistic-ethnographic dictionary
Why Chinese doesn’t overtake English
Chinese or Mandarin has the most native speakers in the world - even more than English. So why is this not the new world language? This question can be answered relatively quickly: The global importance of Chinese is too small. Of course there are extremely many people who speak the language, but these are also concentrated in a very limited area. In order to be considered a world language, however, the meaning of the language must extend far beyond the original language area. The Chinese overseas who speak the language in other countries around the world are of no consequence here.
It is completely different with English. The language with around 330 million native speakers enjoys worldwide importance. The reasons for this are, on the one hand, the colonization of the North American continent by English-speaking people and, on the other hand, the worldwide colonial policy of Great Britain, which is still having an impact on many countries today.
Does everyone have to learn Chinese now?
The number of people learning Chinese as a foreign language is increasing every year - a development that is welcomed and supported by the Chinese government. Most language students' motivation is to get their ticket to the Chinese economy through lingual skills. Sounds logical - but does it really make sense?
Unfortunately not, because, as is so often the case in life, there is a catch in the case of China as an economic powerhouse: the years of boom and growth are over. The International Monetary Fund came to this conclusion only a few weeks ago. According to the IFW, China’s economic growth will fall below the 6 percent mark by 2020. There is already a steady decline in the numbers. Why this is so cannot be analyzed down to the smallest detail at this point. However, experts assume that it is primarily due to China's efforts to no longer focus solely on exporting products. Instead, they want to focus on increasing domestic consumption. This project is making slow progress so far.
The government has also noticed that the country is too dependent on the economy. Your reaction is an increased promotion of the service sectors, which in turn brings a weakening of the gross domestic product with it. A third reason for the stagnation of the Chinese economy is that the country is beginning to become outdated, which can be understood as a direct result of the one-child policy. China is simply getting older.
So is it no longer worth learning Mandarin?
That too cannot be said or written that way. As already mentioned at the beginning, the Steinke Language Index ranks Chinese as the second most important language in the world in 2025. So it is still advisable to learn the language - if you really intend to work in China or other Asian countries. Those who tend to travel to other parts of the world hardly have to expect to make the acquaintance of a Chinese-speaking business partner.
Learning the Chinese language only makes sense if you are active in Asia. Chinese is not a world language that is also important in other areas - for example Europe, Australia or America.
Tips for learning Chinese
No question about it: if you want to learn Chinese or Mandarin, you have big plans. The language is one of the most complex in the world - not least because of the signs that for us Europeans look more like art than writing. Do you still want to accept the challenge? Then the following tips might help you:
- Learn basic grammar rules
Chinese grammar is extremely different from European languages. It is beneficial to focus on a few rudimentary rules at the beginning and learn more in-depth lessons while actively speaking.
- Understand Chinese characters
If you want to understand Chinese not only orally but also in writing, you have to learn the complicated characters. The easiest way to do this is when you have deciphered and internalized the structure of this. The most important thing is to identify the different radicals. Only then can you look up a character in the dictionary, for example, and put together its meaning.
- Modern technology
Of course, you can learn Chinese with the help of various apps and translation programs. But where is the practical relevance? Instead, take the adventure and switch a website or program that you use often to Chinese.
- Films, radio and co.
A language is best burned in when you hear it. Those who do not have regular contact with the Chinese can, for example, listen to Chinese Internet radio or watch films in Chinese. Chinese literature and operating instructions in Chinese are suitable for memorizing the characters even better.
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