Future Speaking: thoughts about Chinese

We all think sometimes about the future, isn’t? When I think in my kids and how to growp up them for the future they will have to face, one of the main topics in the list is languages.

My kids are Catalan, which I’m proud about. They manage Catalan language but Spanish at the school. That’s right. English as foreign language also is part of his training both at school and in private language center.

That’s fine! But it is enough? Reading some information sources, it’s clear that SPANISH and ENGLISH are key languages. But… what about CHINESE (see Wikipedia)?

Let’s see some information and “food for thought”:

  • Accordingly http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm, in terms of population Asia is the top, also in terms of internet users not only in terms of net number. Growth percentage figures out that this will result in the most internet based population.
  • We all know that Asian markets are where investments are going, and specially China. Please look for other blog entries if you require additional information.
  • An old but still interesting report (Spanish) from  Fundacion AUNA – Idiomas y usuarios Internet shows how a) English shrunk from 78% (1999) to 68% (2001) where Chinese grew from 0,6% to 3,9% for the same period and in terms of internet contents. A new from El Pais (Spanish) in 2006 showed a report of Accenture figured out that the internet contents account for a 4,6% for Spanish and 45% for English. I guess that this numbers, today, will be amazing.
  • Is Wikipedia reflecting this fact?
  • We all know how Google is pushing and fighting and the problems they have with Chinese government to ensure his presence in this huge market.

To date, it is obvious that English is the “facto standard” in terms of business language. Having domain on that is a must. Spanish is probably the second language in terms of importance (I remember a discussion some years ago a north american friend where he told me that american managers that speak fluent Spanish are better considered and have better retribution, about +20%).

French and German are also important and we can also include Japanese or Italian, but my question is: which should be the 3rd (or 4th if considering Catalan) my child should talk? Have some security regarding that point is important, because is at least an investment in terms of time (effort) and money!  Because learn Chinese (mandarin) is not easy, for example the new from El Diario de Tarragona (Spanish)  talks about 5 years at least and shows that learn it is not easy!

So, I accept that China and Chinese are important, and our kids should be prepared for that. But my final question is: it’s true, it is required, that we/our child have to learn Chinese, really? Is a must to invest this huge effort of years in training to be able to read a newspaper in Chinese? Or China will learn English?

What do you think?


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