How Important is the Chinese Language Today?
With an estimated 1.45 billion citizens, China has long held the title of world’s most populated nation. China’s influence on the rest of the world is still growing, despite the fact that India may soon overtake it as the dominant nation. As a result, learning Chinese is increasingly becoming a very useful ability for both visitors and businesspeople.
Why should you learn Chinese?
In the modern world, learning Chinese seems like a smart choice for many reasons. Whether you plan to travel to this fascinating country for pleasure or are perhaps hoping to spend a year or two working there, being able to speak Chinese will open up countless doors to you, both socially and professionally. An increasing number of multinationals are also looking to establish a presence in the world’s largest and fastest growing consumer market, so if you can speak the language, you will place yourself at the top of the list for a well-paid and highly educational posting. Indeed, English may remain the language of choice in the global business environment, but the role of Chinese continues to increase as the world’s largest economy establishes itself on the international stage. Natives of Russia and India, in particular, are queuing up to learn Chinese.
Is Chinese difficult to learn?
Although there are many other dialects and regional languages spoken in China, Mandarin has been adopted as the standard due to its widespread use and its role as a lingua franca for people from different regions. Mandarin, also known as Standard Chinese or “Putonghua” (普通话), is the main dialect in China. It is the most widely spoken dialect and is used as the official language for communication and education throughout the country.
Chinese has its own characters that seem entirely foreign to anyone outside of East Asia, making learning Chinese initially seem intimidating. Known as “Hanzi” (汉字), Chinese characters are over 5,000 years old and originally derived from pictorial representations of common objects or actions. Another aspect of Chinese that many westerners struggle to master is the use of tones to denote meaning, rather than to express emotion as is more common in the west.
Despite the daunting nature of Chinese characters and tones, it’s actually quite easy to start learning and speaking Chinese. With no complicated verbs to conjugate or declensions of cases to learn, Chinese grammar is actually fairly straightforward. Once you start putting together a few basic sentences without having to worry about whether the subject agrees with the verb or if the noun is masculine, feminine, singular or plural, your confidence soon flourishes.
Where is the best place to learn Chinese?
While the obvious answer to this question may seem like it should be “in China”, there are a couple of reasons why this isn’t necessarily the best option. For a start, many people want to learn the Chinese language in order to get ready to travel, work in China or do business with Chinese people. Most people choose to study Chinese in their home country, or a third country before traveling to China for convenience, cost-effectiveness, access to language resources and to build a foundation of the language before arrival. It can also reduce stress and increase confidence in a familiar environment.
One of the most popular places to learn Chinese is Bangkok, Thailand. In addition to being home to a sizeable Chinese community, with many Thais being of Chinese heritage, Thailand also offers a number of other advantages for Chinese language learning, especially for those who plan to learn the Chinese language in English. Quite apart from the favorable climate and low cost of living in Thailand, it is also a hub of Asia, making it easy to travel on to China, or indeed anywhere else in Asia, from Bangkok.
More importantly, however, there is a well-established language industry in Thailand, with an increasing focus on Chinese. One language school in Thailand that specializes in Chinese is ALA Language School. As a popular Chinese language school in Bangkok, ALA offers Chinese language course for beginners to advanced levels, with all Chinese language class taught by the native Chinese speakers, who are also fluent in English.
To find out more about the Chinese language course at ALA click here