Social Question

stanleybmanly's avatar

Is it time to make Mandarin a compulsory subject in American schools?

Asked by stanleybmanly (23824points) 1 month ago from iPhone

After all, isn’t the “writing on the wall”?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

34 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

No need. The Chinese children all learn English. It would be smart to take Mandarin though as a second or third language.

I don’t know if they all take English all the way through high school, possibly they can choose other languages to become very proficient in, but I think they all take some English now.

ragingloli's avatar

I mean, they are delicious, but I do not see the need to make knowledge about Mandarins compulsory.

janbb's avatar

@ragingloli You are my darling Clementine!

KNOWITALL's avatar

It would be a great option but certainly not mandatory. It’s not an easy language to learn.

I was in the first Japanese class offered in my area of Missouri back in hs, maybe 1989, so I would have loved that option to go along with my French.

zenvelo's avatar

oh geez, @janbb and her tangerine dreams.

My daughter took Mandarin from 7h grade through the end of high school, including AP Mandarin. She can converse, but does not feel at all proficient. It’s a damn tough language.

China doesn’t make Mandarin a compulsory subject; a lot of Chinese don’t speak it.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@zenvelo You should check out this guy’s video’s, they’re actually very entertaining.
https://youtu.be/njn6krU3tQ8

Dutchess_III's avatar

No. I think Spanish would actually be useful tho.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Not yet. However I have no problem with teaching Mandarin in children’s shows. Like sesame street.

LostInParadise's avatar

I don’t know about any handwriting on the wall, but there seems to be a consensus among the Chinese that the U.S. is in decline. Link

cookieman's avatar

“Mandatory”?! Ha! Most Americans don’t see the value and wouldn’t agree to make Spanish mandatory and it’s the most widely spoken language in the world — not to mention spoken by a few of our neighbors/territories.

janbb's avatar

No, most business is conducted in English or with interpreters. We never made Russian or Arabic mandatory when they were deemed strategically important. It wouldn’t be bad to have it as an elective option though

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

We have translation apps now. No need.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Well we are close to China and has political bickering with China from time to time, and no one has made Chinese a compulsory subject yet.

I notice that people seem to confuse “a widespread language” with “a language spoken by many people”. There are a lot of Chinese speakers, but the problem is that China is a big country with so many people in it, and most Chinese speakers are in Chinese. English may not have as much speakers as Chinese, but it has speakers almost all around the world. Saying we should all learn Chinese because Chinese is spoken by many people is a fallacy. By that logic, should people study Indian too because Indian has the second largest population in the world? It’s not the number of people that counts, but how widespread the language actually is around the world.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mimishu1995 I think Chinese is mentioned because they are gaining a lot of position in the world economically and in other powerful ways. When I was in school in the ‘80’s at least one of the schools in my district offered Chinese classes, and even then we thought it might be a real advantage in business to know Chinese. I think back then probably the Chinese were not teaching English so systematically though. Americans got lucky that so much of the world speaks English as a second language, because overall we (in America) did a terrible job of teaching second languages. Some school districts are much better than others.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@JLeslie that’s a good point. But I think it only applies to America. The rest of the world, not really. There are a lot of factors influencing the dominance of a language mostly political ones. And each country has a different thing going on with it.

Take my country, for example. Back when the Soviet Union was still a formidable force against America, Russia was the official second language of Vietnam or at least it seemed like it. Chinese seemed to also be a language deemed important hell, it was what my grandpa taught in high school. English was still there, but it was just some niche language learned by nerdy college students. But with the fall of the Soviet Union and the mini-war China did to us during the 90s, as well as the strengthened relationship between my country and the West in the 2000s, English rose to the top while Russian and Chinese fell into obscurity.

It was only recently that Chinese started to regain some popularity, along with Japanese and Korean, thanks to the trading relationship and the interest in those cultures among Vietnamese youth I think the three things that directly kickstarted this interest are anime, Chinese romance novels and K-Pop/Korean drama. But still, Chinese is a niche language that only attracts people who are really into it or looking for a job opportunity the latter kind of people are more likely to drop the language though. I think Chinese will be more popular in the future, but if it is, then so are Japanese and Korean, since the three languages go hand-in-hand during this rise of interest.

Russia has never recovered, and is now a language threatened to go extinct. My college only has about 6 people in the Russian major.

So yeah, our situation with Chinese is very different from the US and the rest of the world. I don’t think the US ever considered making Russian a second language at any point, and of course not Japanese and Korean. We just have different things going on for us.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mimishu1995 Spanish is the most popular second language to study in America, and it’s number one by a long shot.

In the 50’s and 60’s when my parents were in school French was the most common. It was known as the diplomatic language or language of diplomacy. I think maybe many Europeans spoke some French at the time.

I’m pretty sure the official languages for the Olympics is still English and French.

Even US passports were bilingual in English and French until about fifteen years ago they became trilingual adding Spanish to the mix.

Some states have unique situations that influence second languages. Like Vermont borders Quebec, so you see some more French in Vermont. Michigan has car manufacturing so the Detroit airport has Japanese. There are pockets around the country of various second languages.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@JLeslie That’s interesting. Spanish is unknown here. French did enjoy some popularity here for a while, but now it’s the same as Russian, just a bit better. Most people here don’t care about French, though it is a compulsory subject in my Master program.

We are a bit backward when it comes to French ~

kritiper's avatar

Learning Spanish would be more helpful.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mimishu1995 Your country has a whole history with the French.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@JLeslie It’s true. That’s why it’s strange why French isn’t so popular :P

kneesox's avatar

I sure don’t think so. Do you?

raum's avatar

What this country needs is a compulsory introductory logic course.

kneesox's avatar

@raum they used to teach how to tell fact vs opinion and recognize propaganda in middle school. Wonder if any teachers are even up to it anymore.

raum's avatar

I’d forgotten about that!
I’m curious if they still teach that.

Mimishu1995's avatar

You guys learned that at school? I thought it was a recent thing.

raum's avatar

I think we learned it in sixth or seventh grade? I forget whether it was part of English or Social Studies.

Yellowdog's avatar

What is inevitable, @stanleybmanly (which you may be implying) is that the States will be kind of a puppet or dependent or ruled by China in about 10–30 years. They already influence or control politics, businesses, and sports franchises.

stanleybmanly's avatar

As recently as when I was a boy, the required international language was French. It was considered essential for those pursuing careers in diplomacy or international affairs. The “Lingua Franca” shifted to English by the time I was in high school, but German was considered a biggie for those headed toward the fields of chemistry, physics or engineering. And NOW, it’s rather clear which country is destined to hold the cards. English remains (so far) the essential language for air traffic control world wide, but it’s undeniable that command of Mandarin is a huge leg up for those involved in trade, manufacturing, import/export and in the near future, finance as well. Funny, yet predictable the way the world works and the empire on top finds its language also dominating the world. Just consider the weight of Latin in the world’s languages.

AK's avatar

@stanleybmanly Hey! Don’t make us feel left out. We’re out to conquer the world too….We probably need another 30 years to catch up with the other contender but we’ll get there! Our takeover will be smooth and less troublesome for you. You won’t have to learn our language in your schools…..because we’re learning yours right now in our schools, all in preparation for that smooth takeover…..;) Besides, you wouldn’t know where to begin…we have about 30 languages and 1000s of dialects….

janbb's avatar

@AK If it means that Indian food is more prevalent, I’m all for it.

AK's avatar

@janbb Hah, a fellow desi food lover! We’re trying Janbb. We’ll keep sending soft takeover modules from time to time. Food, Yoga….we’re also testing the waters by sending a few CEOs to your companies….we’ll keep plugging away….!

But our food is yours for the taking. Happy to share all our delish recipes with the world. Glad you like it….

janbb's avatar

@AK You had me at paneer masala.

AK's avatar

That’s an all time classic @janbb . Have you tried our other great export – palak paneer? My ancestors took the unpalatable spinach and created a magic dish that no kid is ever going to say no to. Clever buggers, our ancestors were.

janbb's avatar

^^That’s the same as sag paneer, right? Yes. But we’ve probably derailed the thread enough.

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