Mandarin Chinese learning boom or is it a fad?

There was an article in the New York Times?? recently about the rising interest in learning Mandarin Chinese and the decline in interest in other languages. I wrote the following letter to the NY Times.

“A few words of caution on the Mandarin learning boom. Chinese is not an international language and is not used widely by speakers of third languages. Chinese is difficult to learn and has no vocabulary in common with English, unlike Spanish. Learning the Chinese writing system is tremendously time consuming. Most kids who study Spanish in school today do not?? learn to speak. Mandarin learners will have a?? much harder time.

There are excellent reasons to offer Mandarin, a major world language, as an option, in our schools, without the hype and without making it a “critical language”. First, however, schools should look at how languages are taught and why such a large investment of resources produces such poor results. Schools need to take better advantage of the Internet and modern technology, and liberate language learning from the classroom, enabling more kids to learn more languages, including, but not only, Mandarin.”

One thought on “Mandarin Chinese learning boom or is it a fad?

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