1. You’ll be Equipped for Future Opportunities

Learning to speak Chinese is a great way to give your children an advantage in the increasingly competitive business world. Between equal foreign competitors courting a Chinese company, who will the company choose to associate with: a Chinese-speaking foreigner or a foreigner with a translator? China is emerging from a period of stagnation and again taking it’s place as one of the great powers of the world. China currently has the second largest economy in the world, and has a huge growth rate of averaging 10% per year. To take advantage of this huge economic shift and opportunities.

2. “Made In China” and the Business World

From iPhones and other cutting edge technology, to cheap products sold at prices that are rock bottom, China makes it all. China has become the factory of the world and is moving up the technology food chain. Look at the balance of trade between the US and China. According to Nobel Prize Winner Robert Mundell China will become the factory of the world; in my opinion it already has. Now products are built, as well as designed in China. In the business world, especially manufacturing, knowing Chinese is helpful.

3. Export Opportunities

China is a huge export market for the US. 1/5th of the world’s population lives in China. Overseas Chinese dominate the economies of many countries in Asia, and speaking Mandarin gives you an edge in doing business with them.  Countries with large overseas Chinese populations include Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia.  China has become one of the largest trading partners with the US. Over 16,000 US companies sell products in China. Trade is not only from China to the US, but also the other way. $41.8 Billion in 2006.

4. One-on-One Business Transactions

China is a 12 hour flight away from the U.S. Using Skype or calling China costs a few cents per minute. As Thomas Friedman has written, the world is becoming “flat” so communication, ideas, and goods are traveling faster and faster between countries including the US and China. Learning Chinese gives you the opportunity to take advantage of this change. It’s a great ice breaker when working with people from China if you can say a few words in Chinese. This helps especially when dealing with business people on the other side of the world via conference call if you can speak the same language, adding a translator in negotiations is another barrier.

5. Political Opportunities

The Austrian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. The US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geitner studied Chinese and attended Beijing University. The former Utah Governor, Ambassador to China, and Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is fluent in Chinese (he learned it as a missionary in Taiwan and has an adopted child from China). China is also investing around the world, so being involved in government affairs is another reason to learn Chinese.

6. You’ll Learn China’s Fascinating Culture

Chinese culture is over 5000 years old.  By learning the Chinese Language, you will learn another culture and another way of looking at the world. Learning a language gives you a better understanding through the grammar and even how the words are derived of the culture behind them. And with 20% of the world’s population in China, it would be extremely beneficial to be able to communicate with them!

7. You’ll Learn Another Point of View

When a child uses a word, this word also triggers associations in the brain, brought about by the other languages the child knows.  Maybe this is why it seems people who know languages seem smarter.  The numerous mental associations playing in their brain, opens new ideas.  It also helps as people age. I once had a fun talk with a programmer explaining how learning a new computer language helped keep his mind fresh.

8. Competitive Advantages

Chinese is the fastest growing Foreign Language being taught in US schools. I like Mayor Daly’s quote: “We want to give our young people opportunities to advance … and [Chinese] is a great opportunity to survive in today’s economy.”  Students can get higher grades when they take Chinese subjects in school because they started early at home.

9. Japan is Learning It 

Mandarin Chinese is the most taught foreign language after English in Japan. If the Japanese are learning it, shouldn’t people in the US? The Japanese have a sharp scent on who or what is arriving. Mandarin Chinese is the most used language on the Internet.   10. Family and Community 

My daughter’s ability (she is mixed) to talk to my in-laws in Mandarin is a gift I am glad my wife and I gave her. If you have relatives who don’t speak English, but only Chinese, it’s so great to be able to speak with them in Chinese.  If you also live within a Chinese community, it’s nice to be able to relate to neighbors and friends speaking their language.  I can’t tell you how proud my wife is that my daughter got selected to be the announcer for her Chinese Choir (in Mandarin Chinese)!  There are big Chinese communities all over the world. Whether for business or to establish personal ties, knowing the language is not only useful, but endears you to people you want to connect to.