Statistics from the American Councils for International Education show the number of students learning Mandarin Chinese at primary and middle schools in the U.S. doubled between 2009 and 2015.
What makes Mandarin Chinese so popular? Here are our top 5 interesting findings and figures to share with you.
1. Speak to the world
One of the six official languages of the United Nations, Mandarin Chinese is spoken by over 955 million native speakers worldwide (that’s more than any other language). This means that by learning Chinese, one can unlock the potential to speak to over 13% of the world’s total population.
2. Not as difficult as you thought
While most people think Chinese is a tough language, however, according to MIT, learning a little over 500 characters will allow you to read 75% of written Chinese. The task suddenly seems a lot more manageable. Think about it, a huge population in the world speak Mandarin Chinese; clearly learning it is possible!
3. A trend in future
Not only is Mandarin Chinese the fastest growing language in the world, it’s also the fastest-growing second language in the West. In 2015, Facebook CEO & Founder Mark Zuckerberg gave an entire speech in Chinese at Beijing University. During the 2012-13 school year, a majority of states in the U.S. reported that districts were implementing at least one dual language program, with Spanish and Mandarin Chinese the most commonly reported partner languages.
4. Fun to learn
Chinese characters were originally from the ancient Shang Dynasty, which is more than 3,000 years ago. They looked more like pictures at that age. In modern Chinese, you can still find many Chinese characters to be pictographs, such as the word of 山(shān), which means mountain. Chinese also has lots of loan words taken from English. For example, “巧克力(qiǎo kè lì)” for “chocolate” and “沙发(shā fā)” for “sofa.” Learning Chinese is always fun!
5. Unlock a different part of your brain
Studies suggest that people who speak Mandarin Chinese learn how to use both temporal lobes of their brain, whereas English speakers only uses the left side. Both temporal lobes are required to distinguish between words that have different intonations in Chinese. Therefore, Chinese speakers experience more activity in the spatial and visual brain centers. Isn’t that cool?
At Preplingo, we connect our full-time certified Chinese teachers with your students to learn Chinese in an academic rigorous, fun and affordable way. Classes are conducted online. We run after-school program, summer camp and academic program for schools. Join us and start a Chinese program for your students!
Resources used in this article are from The Chairman’s Bao and U.S. Department of Education.