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Foreigners learn Chinese out of practical interests?

Twenty years ago, most kids learning Chinese in American kindergartens were from Chinese families, but now more and more non-Chinese kids are seen there. An American Chinese reporter has reported about Chinese learning in his article The Changing Face of America's Chinese Schools in The Atlantic. 

二十年前,美国幼儿园学中文的娃娃绝大多数是黑头发黄皮肤的华人子弟,而今出现了越来越多的"洋娃娃"。美国《大西洋月刊》近日刊登的洛杉矶华裔记者《美国中文学校的变化》的文章如上写道。

How popular is Chinese learning among foreigners?

中文在国外有多火?

In recent years, there has been a fever of Chinese learning among European and American countries. Many adult-devoted Chinese training organizations have emerged one after another. Nowadays, Chinese is taught in British nurseries as well. A bilingual kindergarten featuring Chinese learning has just opened in London, where the burbling babies are taught Chinese words and songs, costing £350-1500 a month, which depends on the training time. Although expensive, it still cannot stop the parents' enthusiasm. 

近年来,欧美掀起一股学中文的热潮,许多面向成人的中文补习班纷纷成立,而今英国的幼儿园也开始教中文了。伦敦最近成立了首家以中文为主的双语托儿所,向正咿呀学语的婴幼儿教授中文词汇和歌曲,简直有"学中文从娃娃抓起"的架势。而且学费不菲,每月收费由350至1500英镑(约合人民币3400至14700元)不等,视时间而定。虽然昂贵,但仍然挡不住父母"掏钱"的热情。

How many teachers are teaching Chinese and how many students are learning Chinese in the US? According to the statistics by Asia Society, there are over 50,000 American students learning Chinese presently and the number of schools offering Mandarin programs has risen to 4,000 from 200 ten years ago. Chinese has become the secondary foreign language in the US, next to Spanish. 

在美国有多少教中文的老师和学中文的学生呢?据亚洲协会统计,目前大约有5万多名美国学生在学习中文,开设中文课程的学校则由十年前的200家增长到4000多家。汉语已成为美国仅次于西班牙语的第二大外语。

Chinese has also become the secondary foreign language in South Korea, Japan, France and Germany, the primary foreign language in Australia and the third official language in Canada. According to the estimate by Hanban (Office of Chinese Language Council International), the number of Chinese learners will be over 150,000,000 globally. Chinese proficiency has even been a trump card for people to find a job in many countries. It has become a well-recognized skill.

汉语在韩国、日本、法国、德国等国也一跃成为第二外语,也成为澳大利亚的第一大外语,也是加拿大的第三大官方语言。根据国家汉办的预测,全世界学习汉语的人数将超过1.5亿,懂中文甚至已成为很多国家的公民就业的一张王牌,是一种被社会认可的技能。

Such a favorable trend has been supported by foreign governments as well. When China's President Xi Jinping visited the White House in September, 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama announced the "One Million Strong" initiative to grow the number of K-12 students studying Mandarin from approximately 200,000 to 1 million by 2020. He stressed, "If our two countries are going to do more together around the world, then speaking each other's languages so we can understand each other is fundamental."

这种大好形势也得到了外国政府的助推,2015年九月,习近平主席访美时,美国总统奥巴马宣布将启动"百万强"计划。到2020年,将实现100万名美国学生学习汉语。奥巴马强调:"如果美中两国准备在全球各地采取更多行动,那么一个最好的开端就是学对方的语言、真正了解对方。"

During his visit to China, British Chancellor George Osborne announced a £10m boost towards the teaching of Mandarin in British schools. Britain had introduced Chinese as a compulsory foreign language course for pupils above the third grade in primary schools and announced the goal to double the number of people learning Chinese in the UK from 200,000 to 400,000. This time, it provides the material security to promote Chinese teaching. 

也在那几天,在华访问的英国财政大臣乔治•奥斯本宣布,将拨款1000万英镑支持英国学校开展汉语教学。英方曾宣布将汉语列为小学三年级以上学生系列外语必修课程,以及到2020年实现全英学汉语人数翻番达40万人,这一次,英国再次给推动汉语教学提供了实质性保障措施。

Currently, more than 60 countries have included Chinese teaching in their national education systems. The number of Chinese learners has been over 100 million globally, 3.3 times more than that 10 years ago. In July, 2015, an article written on the Forbes website, reported that "Chinese speakers online have outnumbered English speakers for the first time in history."

目前,已有60多个国家将汉语教学纳入国民教育体系,全球汉语学习者达1亿人,比10年前增长3.3倍。2015年7月,美国《福布斯》网站刊文写道,"历史上第一次,互联网上说中文的用户数量超过了说英语的用户"。 

A reason will well justify Chinese learning: China may become the largest economy in the future.

学中文,一个理由就足够:中国未来可能成为最大经济体

No country can turn a blind eye to China, a country with a population of 1.37 billion as well as a huge market and strong international influences. Moreover, China has now grown into the second largest economy in the world. It has now become a land of first choice for Gold Rush by many foreigners. 

任何一个国家都不能忽略拥有13.7亿人口的中国所拥有巨大的市场和国际影响力。何况,随着经济的发展,中国已成为世界第二大经济体,现在的中国也成为了很多外国人"淘金"的首选之地。

"China would have a larger GDP than the US in 2026 and become the largest economy in the world. It would maintain the leading position till 2050." EIU, the economic analysis think tank under The Economist, claimed in its forecast report in Jun., 2015. 

英国《经济学人》集团旗下的经济分析智囊机构EIU 6月曾发布预测报告称,中国GDP将于2026年超越美国,成为全球最大经济体,并可维持此领先地位至2050年。

The "Chinese Fever" presently is "driven by practical interests" actually. With economic globalization and sustainable economic development in China, more and more foreign investors have fixed their eyes on the huge market of China, especially since it was admitted to WTO. More and more foreign enterprises operate businesses in China. "Chinese proficiency means a good job", which has become a strong motivation for many foreigners to learn Chinese.

当今"中文热"本质上是"现实利益驱动"。全球化经济背景下,中国经济的持续发展,特别是中国加入世贸组织,越来越多的海外投资者看上中国这个巨大的市场,与中国合作的外资企业与日剧增,"会汉语能找到一份好工作"成了很多外国朋友学习汉语的一个强大动力。

Power of a language is closely related to the economic power of its native country. Besides colonialism of the UK and the US all over the world, an important reason why English has been so popular globally is their rapid economic growth in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Driven by technical inventions and capital centralization, the UK and the US became the locomotive of the world's economy successively. Centralization of productive capitals developed into centralization of financial capitals. In the early 20th century, London and New York became the world's financial centers and the leading investment markets. In 1914, the overseas investments by these two countries were over £4.5 billion; three times that of France and four times that of Germany.

一国语言的强大总是与该国经济实力的强大脱不开干系。英语之所以在全世界流行开来,除了英美殖民主义曾在世界各处开花之外,一个重要原因是19世纪后期至20世纪初英美等国的经济快速成长。在技术发明和资本集中的推动下,英国和美国的经济先后扮演了世界经济火车头的角色。生产资本的集中又发展成金融资本的集中。到20世纪初,伦敦和纽约已是世界金融中心和最主要的投资市场。1914年,英国和美国两国在国外的投资超过45亿英镑,这个数目是当时法国在国外投资额的3倍,德国在国外投资额的4倍。

English has become the first common language used among businessmen and investors travelling across the world. Any enterprise owner or businessman should speak English to communicate with  international banks. English has become the prevailing language in the international business circles. 

英语首先成为奔波于全球各地的商人和投资人的通用语言。任何国家的企业主和商人要和国际银行界打交道必须会英语。英语成为国际商界用语占支配地位的语言。

However, the powerful economy of China is not the only reason for one to learn Chinese. According to Quora, these reasons have also been seen: Chinese is considered as one of the most difficult languages in the world, so learning Chinese will be helpful to one's IQ development; learning Chinese to facilitate travelling in China; or learning Chinese just because of the beautiful characters. 

当然,中国经济强大并不是唯一的学习中文的理由。在国外Quora(与知乎类似的网站)网站上,还可以看到如下理由:中文难度系数高,被认为是世界上最难的语言之一,学习中文可以锻炼自己的智商;为了来中国旅游,还有的纯粹是为享受汉字之美。

The article is translated and editted by Chinlingo. Please indicate the source for any use, reproduction or transfer. 

本文由Chinlingo编译后发布,如需转载,请标明来源。

2016-06-21

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