In the past five years jobs requiring Mandarin have grown 75%. Here at Lingo Jingo we see strong demand for Mandarin; nearly 3 times as many people want to learn Mandarin as Spanish. In Asian countries such as Thailand, Chinese is now nearly as important a second language as English.
Living in the US we think of how important it is to learn Spanish (and it remains very important), but on the international stage over half a decade the need for Spanish for a job has not grown, but for Mandarin it has grown over 75%.
"It is obvious why Chinese is becoming more popular," said Li Quan, a professor of Chinese at Renmin university in Beijing. "We are now a major economy. The West has started to realise that if you want to get to know China and understand how the country works, it is important to learn Mandarin. And the world now understands that China is going to be a force for a long time, so learning the language is essential". (quoted from The Telegraph)
The US has thrived and has made English the language of business throughout the world. While its position is not being threatened, Chinese will continue to become ever increasingly important. From an education standpoint Will the US get left behind?
Countries like Australia are proposing mandatory Asian Language Learning, which makes sense given their economic ties to the region. Even the UK is having the debate.
Here in the US Spanish is still the most required non-english language, so don’t throw it out yet. Also, with the rise of Latin America Spanish and Portuguese remain great languages to know.
However, learning some basic Chinese could well open up the door to more employment opportunities.