Is Learning Mandarin Worth It?

September 24, 2014 in Daily Bulletin

As China continues its rise people, including President Obama’s daughter, are increasingly looking to learn Mandarin. Nikhil Sonnad wrote that the language isn’t as dominant in China as people think:

  • According to the Chinese government, only 70% of the country’s citizens speak Mandarin, and of those only 10% are fluent in it.
  • This means that learning to speak anything more than basic Mandarin won’t really help in communicating with over 93% of China.
  • Add in those from Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora abroad, and there are about 120 million fluent Mandarin speakers in the world.
  • In contrast Spanish, a more popular second language in the west, is spoken by 400 million people in the world.
  • Even if China goes onto dominate the international order Mandarin is unlikely to become the lingua franca due to the difficulty that people have learning it.

Read about what the rest of China speaks, what the Japanese example tells us, and other Asian languages that have a comparable number of speakers but aren’t given much attention over here.

Source: Quartz