Mandarin is a fascinating language that is garnering growing levels of interest among English speakers. But what’s in it for those children who are learning to speak it? Let’s find out! Here are five reasons why your children might benefit from learning Mandarin.
Mandarin translation and business opportunities
China is the world’s largest economy when ranked by purchasing power parity. It is a global superpower that presents a huge range of business opportunities for those looking to engage in international trade. Those who can undertake Chinese to English translation without needing an interpretation service will have a distinct advantage when it comes to pursuing those business opportunities.
This might not seem overly relevant while your children are still toddling around in nappies but speaking Mandarin could make a huge difference to their future career opportunities and the earlier they begin to learn, the better. Exposure to different ways of sounding out words at a young age can make a huge difference when it comes to a speaker’s accent, so cracking out the Mandarin cartoons during your child’s language formation stage is ideal.
Which countries speak Mandarin Chinese? In addition to China, both Taiwan and Singapore use Mandarin as an official language, opening up future employment opportunities in those countries as well for individuals who can translate easily between English and Mandarin.
In addition to dealing directly with business opportunities in Mandarin-speaking countries, your child will enjoy a range of other opportunities that come with speaking the language fluently. Translation, localization and interpretation all require superb language skills and the foundations for these careers are often laid during childhood.
Translation and brain development
With apps and online tutors complementing an increase in interest from schools, there are plenty of ways for children to learn Mandarin these days through language games and other fun activities.
Bilingual individuals have a number of cognitive advantages over those who speak just one language. As such, by encouraging your child to learn Mandarin, you are contributing to enhanced development of their cognitive functions. By undertaking translation between two languages, bilingual brains build up improved problem solving and planning skills, superior reasoning and enhanced working memory, among other executive functions. These abilities will support your child to excel in other learning activities, as well as language acquisition.
Raising cultural awareness through translation
How many Mandarin speakers are there? In terms of native speaker numbers, over 917 million people speak Mandarin Chinese. Add in those who speak it as a second language and the total number of speakers surpasses 1.1 billion.
Despite this, the number of those who speak Chinese in the western world is very low. There are historic reasons for this, the main one of which has been a lack of attention to Chinese language learning by educational authorities. However, since China’s rise to global economic prominence, many schools are now supporting their pupils to learn Mandarin.
Learning a language brings with it certain other advantages. Are you raising your child to be a citizen of the world? To have a passion for understanding different cultures and peoples? If so, learning Mandarin is an excellent way to broaden their cultural horizons. You can use language learning to impart information about China’s gastronomy, history, art, politics, geography and more, all suited to the child’s age and level of understanding. In a world fractured by racism, international disputes, climate change issues and more, raising culturally curious children can benefit not only the children themselves but also society as a whole.
Translation and travel
Bringing your children up to speak Mandarin competently can broaden their travel horizons as well as their future career opportunities. From exploring huge, stunning cities like Beijing and Shanghai, to finding your way off the beaten track to discover incredible natural landscapes, speaking Mandarin without the need to constantly consult a translation app will dramatically increase the ease with which your youngsters will one day be able to travel around China.
China is home to some incredible tourist attractions. What is the best part of China to visit? It depends on what you want to see! The sheer variety on offer is superb. From heading to Beijing to see the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace to exploring China’s ancient civilization in Xi’an, your children will be able to experience China in a very different way as a result of speaking the local language fluently.
Making friends through language learning
Learning Mandarin isn’t a quick process. How long does it take to learn Mandarin? The Foreign Service Institute advises that around 2,200 hours of study are required to achieve proficiency in speaking and reading it. This means that Mandarin Chinese is one of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn. However, starting at a young age can give your children a serious head start.
One of the key advantages of supporting them to speak Mandarin is the potential to make new friends that language learning brings with it. From local classes with children their own age to pen pal sites that connect children across international borders, language learning presents opportunities to form friendships that would otherwise remain closed off. And as friendships are so key to social and emotional development during childhood and adolescence, you are helping to establish a firm foundation for your child.
So there you have it. Five compelling reasons why it’s time to reach for the flashcards and start teaching your children Mandarin. You’ll expand their minds, cultural awareness and travel, business and social opportunities.
Of course, if you don’t speak the language yourself, then learning Mandarin also presents an opportunity to spend time working together as a family to achieve something. The more fun that you can build into the learning process, the better. Keep things varied with games, songs, books, cartoons and more, introducing fresh new activities and content regularly in order to keep up the pace and ensure that learning Mandarin remains fun for all the family.