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Wed Jun 27, 2012, 06:04 PM

American Families Are Now Packing Up And Moving To China So Their Kids Can Learn To Speak Mandarin

American families are uprooting their entire lives and relocating their families to China to give their children a leg up in learning Mandarin as China's influence continues to grow, according to The Wall Street Journal.

High-powered American couples reportedly move to China and enroll their children in elementary schools that teach Mandarin. Instruction is completed in two years in these schools, and then the families move back to the United States.

And even if parents aren't moving there, they are choosing Mandarin submersion programs, hiring tutors, using Skype to talk with teachers in Beijing, and even hiring Chinese-speaking nannies.

Sources told The WSJ that prospective employees who speak Mandarin have a leg-up in the job market, and doting American parents are trying to do everything they can possible to give them that edge.



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/american-families-move-to-china-to-learn-mandarin-2012-6

Being bilingual in English and Chinese is the optimal combination -

- you have access to information in English which is the universal language of business and science and has the second largest total number of speakers (480 million), and

- you have access to information in Chinese which has the largest number of speakers (1,120 million).

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Reply American Families Are Now Packing Up And Moving To China So Their Kids Can Learn To Speak Mandarin (Original post)
FarCenter Jun 2012 OP
HiPointDem Jun 2012 #1
FarCenter Jun 2012 #2
mzteris Jun 2012 #3
bhikkhu Jun 2012 #4
eShirl Jun 2012 #5
Spider Jerusalem Jun 2012 #6
XemaSab Jun 2012 #10
XemaSab Jun 2012 #11
FarCenter Jun 2012 #13
Spider Jerusalem Jun 2012 #14
Zalatix Jun 2012 #7
alcibiades_mystery Jun 2012 #8
XemaSab Jun 2012 #9
Quantess Jun 2012 #12

Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 06:06 PM

1. too late. the insiders (like tim geithner) did it in the 80s.

 

they knew which way the wind blew, as their families were the weathermen.

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:02 PM

2. The New York Times' Chinese Edition Just Went Live

Announced just earlier today, the New York Times' Chinese edition (http://cn.nytimes.com) appears to have just gone live.

The Mandarin-language edition will feature translated material and material written specifically for Chinese readers and the paper has specifically said that it wouldn't bow to official censorship.

There seems to be a little bit of difference in homepage, but nothing too major.


Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/new-york-times-chinese-edition-2012-6

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:31 PM

3. One son speaks Chinese

The other Spanish. I think we're covered...

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:36 PM

4. China is sponsoring language schools here as well

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/01/19/china.funds.language.programs/index.html

...so if I were younger or my family were more mobile and so inclined, I'd think about moving to one of the many areas of the US with good programs in Mandarin. When I was in school Japanese was the big thing. I never got far in that, but always admired the people who were able to learn and put it to good use.

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:40 PM

5. Mandarin *sub*mersion?

Is that a more intense version of immersion?

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:40 PM

6. Educated Chinese speak English

it's compulsory from secondary school onward, and English proficiency is required to take a degree at a Chinese university. Westerners learning Mandarin is probably wasted effort. Not to mention that Mandarin is exceptionally difficult to learn if one doesn't learn it from an early age; the tonal system and the non-alphabetic writing both make it extremely hard for students. (And even native speakers can have a hard time properly identifying or writing the character for a given word.)

John DeFrancis, in his book The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy, reports that his Chinese colleagues estimate it takes seven to eight years for a Mandarin speaker to learn to read and write three thousand characters, whereas his French and Spanish colleagues estimate that students in their respective countries achieve comparable levels in half that time.2 Naturally, this estimate is rather crude and impressionistic (it's unclear what "comparable levels" means here), but the overall implications are obvious: the Chinese writing system is harder to learn, in absolute terms, than an alphabetic writing system.3 Even Chinese kids, whose minds are at their peak absorptive power, have more trouble with Chinese characters than their little counterparts in other countries have with their respective scripts. Just imagine the difficulties experienced by relatively sluggish post-pubescent foreign learners such as myself.

Everyone has heard that Chinese is hard because of the huge number of characters one has to learn, and this is absolutely true. There are a lot of popular books and articles that downplay this difficulty, saying things like "Despite the fact that Chinese has separate characters you really only need 2,000 or so to read a newspaper". Poppycock. I couldn't comfortably read a newspaper when I had 2,000 characters under my belt. I often had to look up several characters per line, and even after that I had trouble pulling the meaning out of the article. (I take it as a given that what is meant by "read" in this context is "read and basically comprehend the text without having to look up dozens of characters"; otherwise the claim is rather empty.)

This fairy tale is promulgated because of the fact that, when you look at the character frequencies, over 95% of the characters in any newspaper are easily among the first 2,000 most common ones.4 But what such accounts don't tell you is that there will still be plenty of unfamiliar words made up of those familiar characters. (To illustrate this problem, note that in English, knowing the words "up" and "tight" doesn't mean you know the word "uptight".) Plus, as anyone who has studied any language knows, you can often be familiar with every single word in a text and still not be able to grasp the meaning. Reading comprehension is not simply a matter of knowing a lot of words; one has to get a feeling for how those words combine with other words in a multitude of different contexts.5 In addition, there is the obvious fact that even though you may know 95% of the characters in a given text, the remaining 5% are often the very characters that are crucial for understanding the main point of the text. A non-native speaker of English reading an article with the headline "JACUZZIS FOUND EFFECTIVE IN TREATING PHLEBITIS" is not going to get very far if they don't know the words "jacuzzi" or "phlebitis".

The problem of reading is often a touchy one for those in the China field. How many of us would dare stand up in front of a group of colleagues and read a randomly-selected passage out loud? Yet inferiority complexes or fear of losing face causes many teachers and students to become unwitting cooperators in a kind of conspiracy of silence wherein everyone pretends that after four years of Chinese the diligent student should be whizzing through anything from Confucius to Lu Xun, pausing only occasionally to look up some pesky low-frequency character (in their Chinese-Chinese dictionary, of course). Others, of course, are more honest about the difficulties. The other day one of my fellow graduate students, someone who has been studying Chinese for ten years or more, said to me "My research is really hampered by the fact that I still just can't read Chinese. It takes me hours to get through two or three pages, and I can't skim to save my life." This would be an astonishing admission for a tenth-year student of, say, French literature, yet it is a comment I hear all the time among my peers (at least in those unguarded moments when one has had a few too many Tsingtao beers and has begun to lament how slowly work on the thesis is coming).
http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/moser.html/

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Response to Spider Jerusalem (Reply #6)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:56 PM

10. Fascinating!

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Response to Spider Jerusalem (Reply #6)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 01:29 AM

11. That was a really good article

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Response to Spider Jerusalem (Reply #6)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 07:02 AM

13. An English speaker will usually not learn any other language well enough to become fluent in it

As you point out, educated people from other nations will have studied English as a second language from an early age and be quite fluent in English. Therefore, speaking with and writing to native speakers of other languages is almost always done in English, rather than in the halting and clumsy attempt at the other language that the native English speaker can make. This is even more true of European languages such as French, German, Spanish, Portugese and Italian than it is of the Asian languages.

However, reading is another matter, since learning to read other languages does allow one to access their written information, especially on line, (although Google translate is getting pretty good for European languages). Possibly an objective would be to learn the 2136 Chinese characters in Kanji, since it helps Japanese to get the gist of Chinese writing.

Although we don't think of it that way, there are thousands of iconic symbols that everyone recongnizes - the swastika for example. Graphical user interfaces are beginning to generate a whole vocabulary of icons with meanings. Various branches of science also have their own sets of graphical representations and symbols.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #13)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 07:30 AM

14. Well no, that's not really true at all

English speakers have a less difficult time learning Germanic and Romance languages. I can read, more or less, a newspaper in Spanish, or French, or Portuguese, or Italian, or Romanian, well enough to get most of the sense out of it, despite never having studied one of those languages, thanks to four years of Latin in school. Given application and an environment that encouraged me to actually read AND speak one of those languages on a daily basis, I could probably become fluent, or at least fluent enough to get by. So, probably, could most people; but the thing is, most English speakers don't HAVE to. There's not really any incentive for language learning when English is the lingua franca of international business, diplomacy, aviation, and science; a native-born English speaker today is in more or less the same situation as a Roman in AD 100.

Also, translation of written materials is probably a better goal given the difficulties of learning to read Chinese (if you'd read the article I linked you'd see that even native speakers who are students attending a top university can't say what the character for a specific word is in some instances).

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:43 PM

7. I wonder if Mandarin has any equivalent words for

 

workers' rights
reproductive rights
democracy
pollution controls
?

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:45 PM

8. LOL at "submersion programs"

This is the usual drivel. I didn't see any evidence of any significant trend in this regard. Four families, none of them particularly representative of wider trends. Between the hedge fund manager, and the 69 year old guy with a 43 year old wife and a 9 year old kid (know a lot of those?), we can say pretty safely that these are atypical dilettantes doing what dilettantes do. To extrapolate that to "American Families" as any kind of class is just the latest in the usual journalistic nonsense. As for the "submersion" programs and all the tutors, I think a poster above nailed the comparison - this is just the next version of the 80's mania for teaching the kids Japanese for business, and just as transitory.

A silly little story of minor interest to people who read the Journal and their business press parasites.

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:53 PM

9. One person doing this once does not make this a thing.

There are Mandarin immersion schools in California for the hardcore.

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 01:53 AM

12. is Rupert Murdoch still the owner of WSJ?

I recall that he bought it a few years back.

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