Chinese is a beautiful language and one of the most widely used in the world. Many parents wonder whether it is appropriate to choose the “Chinese option” for their child’s schooling. What about you?
Chinese, this fascinating language
More than 1.4 billion Chinese in their country, not to mention the thousands of Chinese communities around the world, this is enough for any parent to wonder about the “plus” that mastering this thousand-year-old language would bring to their child. It is obvious that in commercial exchanges, in engineering, but also in negotiations of all kinds, speaking Chinese is obviously a major asset. If you look ahead to your child’s years of higher education, and even beyond in his or her visibility as a young active person on LinkedIn, speaking Chinese is scintillating.
Speaking Chinese, knowing Chinese culture
Millennial, the Chinese language is also the language of a people (of different ethnicities, Mandarin and Cantonese, for that matter) whose history and civilization are fascinating. To speak Chinese, it is said, is also to write the Chinese language and to master the sinograms, their calligraphy. Learning Chinese characters is …. The story of a lifetime! It would seem strange to know the Chinese language without knowing its history, its cuisine, its numerous thinkers, its painters or its ceramists…. So there is a world to explore.
The choice of the second foreign language is important in a school curriculum
The choice of a second foreign language, which takes place in adolescence (in 4th grade, in France), is anything but trivial. Let’s not kid ourselves: it is often the parents who make the choice for the young person. Think back to your own college experience. A long time ago, in France, we chose German out of fascination for the economic success of our neighbor and because its grammatical structure in declensions was said to be well adapted to mathematicians. Mathematicians + German + sometimes Latin = the cocktail opened the door to the best high school classes.
But of course, English has been the vernacular language of the world for the last 80 years (since the Second World War and the economic and media supremacy of the USA). It is not cut out, but it is practically always the “first foreign language” option, as soon as you enter high school.
However, for more than a decade, the teaching of Chinese, linked to the attraction of this country which is more and more dominant in the world economy, has made a considerable leap: there are more teachers and young people are more attracted.
To choose Chinese, it is better to be a very academic student
For all the reasons mentioned above, it is very important to calmly consider why you would want your child to learn Chinese rather than Spanish or German and to realistically assess whether he or she is capable of doing so. Because, basically, you have to be a very academic child. By this I mean a child who is autonomous in his or her learning, responsible for his or her commitment, very persevering, calm and gifted with good concentration.
Learning begins with the mastery of the basic sinograms (about 500 between the 4th grade and the baccalaureate!). We should also mention that the content and pedagogy have been accelerated in the second year of school. Moreover, it is a question of mastering the sounds and the tones. Sometimes two different sounds for a sinogram, and a line can modify a sinogram and thus its pronunciation!
It is therefore necessary to count hours of work per week, hours of copying the signs, at the beginning with a 4 color pen. Lines and lines of the same character, pages and pages of character families…! And to know that during the vacations, it will be obvious that your child will be able to take his notebook by himself to practice his graphic acquisition every day.
Choosing Chinese as a second language, it is possible but to evaluate well
There are many non-Chinese children learning this beautiful Chinese language around the world. So it is possible. But I wish to bring you to this responsible reflection for the future of your child.
A young person who, from the first year of teaching, drops out because this marathon is too heavy for him, for her, it is a real difficulty. He will have tried to conform to your dream of success, of a “plus” for his future, without being able to meet the challenge. It is also important, before committing yourself, to check with the school to make sure that it is possible, even during the year, to return to a Spanish, German or Italian course, for example. If your child arrives at the Bac without a well acquired second language, he or she will be sorely lacking points at the time of the exam.
But the persevering ones are rich of an immense opening
Like any language acquired, there is a joy in being able to read another thought, to subscribe to newsletters that inform you of this current world that speaks this language, to follow a Chinese program on TV or on Youtube, to produce writings, correspondences, often using a Chinese keyboard (keyboard “Pinyin”).
So, learning Chinese is a wonderful perspective, provided that you know how to evaluate the different issues.