Posts tagged mandarin
Posts tagged mandarin
As part of Australia’s continuing commitment to prepare its citizens to be competitive in what it calls the “Asian Century,” the government has called for 50% of Australian students to be studying an Asian language within a decade. Australia is making Asian languages, and specifically Mandarin, a priority in its schools. “The global situation is rapidly changing,” and with China becoming more important, more Australians are rushing to learn Mandarin.
In this article from the Sydney Morning Herald, Benjamin Preiss lays out Australia’s ambitious plan, and why it’s worth the price tag.
Language studies plan backed despite high cost
29 October 2012 by Benjamin Preiss | The Sydney Morning Herald
THE FEDERAL government’s plan to allow all students the opportunity to study an Asian language would cost billions of dollars, an Asia policy expert says.
Swinburne University Asian policy Professor Ken Chern praised the government’s ”ambitious” strategy to build stronger ties with Asia but said it would require a major commitment.
“The government will have to move powerfully to implement what I think is a very important program,” he said.
The government’s Asian Century white paper, launched yesterday, outlines plans to improve Australians’ knowledge of Asian languages and culture.
It aimed for all students to have access to studying Mandarin, Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese throughout their schooling.
Professor Chern said giving all students the opportunity to learn an Asian language would “likely run into the billions”. ”It’s a seriously expensive project,” he said.
But he welcomed the white paper’s proposal for Asian language studies to be a core requirement of funding arrangements for schools to be negotiated between the federal and state governments and non-government education authorities.
Professor Chern said it was crucial that Australian students were exposed to Asian culture by incorporating it into history, economics and political studies at schools and universities.
Asia Education Foundation executive director Kathe Kirby welcomed the education objectives listed in the white paper but said they would require the support of state and territory governments.
The foundation believes it would cost about $1 billion to have 50 per cent of young people in Australia learning an Asian language over the next decade.
Ms Kirby said some students were put off learning Mandarin because they studied alongside native speakers who already had a strong grasp on the language.
Although Mandarin is offered separately for new and native speakers in Victoria, Ms Kirby said students often studied in the same class.
“Where the system falls down is schools usually don’t have enough students to be running separate classes,” she said.
The white paper sets a goal of 10 Australian universities reaching the top 100 in the world by 2025. Australia now has six universities in the first 100 of the Times Higher Education’s global rankings.
Melbourne University’s Asia Institute director Pookong Kee said many Asian governments were investing heavily in their universities.
He said institutes in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan were trying to establish themselves as world-leading universities with their governments “rapidly outspending Australia” on higher education. ”The global situation is changing rapidly,” he said.
The federal government also aims to encourage more Australian university students to study in Asian universities.
Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans said the government would support universities to increase the number of students taking Asian studies and languages as part of their education.
“We want to support more Australian students to undertake part of their study in the Asian region not only to boost their direct understanding of Asia in the changing economy, but also to develop networks and friendships that will last a lifetime,” he said.
”Our aim is that by 2025, a larger number of Australian university students will be studying overseas and a greater proportion will be undertaking part of their degree in an Asian country.”
But Professor Kee said his institute had already been trying to encourage more Australian students to study in Asia. ”In general students are still preferring to travel to Europe. They find Paris more interesting than New Delhi or Beijing,” he said.
Professor Kee said students who did study in Asia sometimes struggled to gain recognition from local universities for the work they had completed.
Read full article here.
For a long time, students have been told the benefits of learning Mandarin: personal enrichment and professional advancement. Now, British bankers are learning this firsthand. Bankers that want jobs in the highly lucrative and highly competitive Hong Kong and Singapore sectors are being told: if you don’t speak Mandarin, don’t bother applying. As more wealthy clients are coming from mainland China, the demand for bankers fluent in Mandarin has risen. Today, Mandarin proficiency is a prerequisite for the job.
This article from Britain’s The Independent explains why learning Mandarin could be the best career move you ever make.
No Mandarin? No jobs, bankers warned
29 October 2012 | The Independent
British bankers without Mandarin language skills are finding it increasingly tough to be shortlisted for jobs in the financial centres of Hong Kong and Singapore, a major recruiter has warned.
Demand for bankers who speak Mandarin has risen because of the importance of mainland Chinese corporate and high net worth private clients, says jobs firm Astbury Marsden. The pool of new jobs has also shrunk, leaving the recruiter to warn that competition for positions is so intense non-Mandarin speakers have almost no chance of securing employment in Hong Kong.
Mark O’Reilly, Astbury Marsden’s managing director of Asia-Pacific, said: “For British expat bankers, having the technical skills and experience is no longer enough. If your role in a bank or fund manager is to deal with a mainland Chinese client, you are now expected to be fluent in Mandarin.”
Read full article here.
As the saying goes, “it’s the little things in life” that are the most important, and CLI Study Abroad student Kelsey Cute would agree. When it comes to learning Mandarin in China, getting the most out of her experience is as easy as taking a walk around Guilin. In CLI Perspectives #11, Kelsey explains what being immersed in a culture means to her.
By Kelsey Cute, CLI Study Abroad Student
I think the best thing about studying abroad is the new experiences and adventures that you get to have. That is not to say that you must spend all of your time climbing mountains and seeing spectacular things every day. To me, the best memories from a trip can be the smallest things.
This semester that I am spending in Guilin is punctuated with these little memories. My favorite things to do in Guilin are not the expected tourist things like climb the famous mountains in the area or visiting the local tourist locales. What I find most memorable are the smaller, everyday events.
Like the markets that pop up like mushrooms after rain. As the sun sets they spring from the sidewalks and empty streets selling anything from socks and underwear to mobile phones. There are even barbecue places for when you get hungry. There are also larger markets to be found throughout the city; some are fruit and vegetable markets, some are furniture markets, and there is even a bird and flower market. All of these markets bustle with energy and life on the weekends.
I love to just explore the city with a milk-tea in my hand; to wander around the stores and streets, window shopping, people watching, trying the food at the street stands. To live in a different country, no matter how long you stay, is an amazing experience and I have never regretted any trip that I have been on. My advice to would-be travelers is to just go out and do it. Stop planning. Stop dreaming. Just do it, and enjoy it.
Alex Gavis had never planned on learning Mandarin. In fact, she started heading down the French language road. But after taking a wrong turn at the Eiffel Tower, she found herself merging onto the highway towards Mandarin language proficiency. In CLI Perspectives #10, Alex explains why she decided to study Mandarin and what she has learned while living in Guilin.
By Alex Gavis, CLI Immersion Program Student
During college, I had always planned to study abroad in Paris, France. Every semester I found myself in one or two French courses, and as an International Relations major it seemed natural for me to study in a country that spoke my language of study. However, I was awarded a scholarship to study Mandarin in China during my junior year. This unexpected, yet welcome, plot twist changed everything. When I arrived at CLI, I had never studied a word of Chinese and the breadth of my knowledge stretched from one side of the “Wok n’ Roll” take-out menu to the other.
I spent the next four weeks in CLI’s Immersion Program, having 4 hours of class every day, half of which were one-on-one. By the time I left Guilin I could hold conversations with shopkeepers and taxi drivers, all while bargaining for Chinese knickknacks or giving them travel directions. Not only did my teachers have a hand in my success, but also the location of the Chinese Language Institute. Guilin is the perfect combination of urban city and rural countryside. The people are the kindest and most welcoming of any I have encountered. You need only to stammer out a “Ni hao!” and instantly smiles spread across their faces. I returned to the United States that June with a greater appreciation for diversity and a deeper understanding for who I was as a global citizen.
Now, as a recent graduate from Virginia Tech, I find myself back in Guilin. I returned to CLI with hopes of furthering my Mandarin abilities and in doing so build myself a new skill set that will increase my marketability to future employers. This is not simply a place for college students to come study for a few months, but rather a community-based learning center that welcomes students and professionals from all age groups and all walks of life. In addition to many new Chinese people, I have met Germans, Australians, and even Israelis that I now call my friends. People from all over the world come to Guilin searching for a better understanding of Chinese language and culture, and in my opinion there is no better place to find it.
This week CLI is bustling with the start of a new school year. Everywhere one looks there are new faces, new smiles, and a fresh first day of school excitement contributing to CLI’s diverse, close-knit community. From college students to business professionals, individuals from all different backgrounds are coming to Guilin in search of a firsthand experience learning Chinese language and culture.
CLI kicked off the 2012 fall semester with a weekend trip to Longsheng where students witnessed the dichotomy of old and new living side-by-side, as hotels spring up alongside men hauling yokes through the hand-carved rice terraces. Students laced up their hiking shoes, braved the beating sun and traversed the picturesque rice terraces stopping in Zhuang minority villages along the way. The hot temperatures and exhausted feet didn’t stop students from practicing their Mandarin with locals and bonding over life’s greatest connector – language.
This semester has just begun and it is already turning into one of epic proportions. With organized badminton and mahjong tournaments, KTV nights, and more cultural excursions on the horizon, CLI will continue to be the “hot place” to learn Mandarin well into the winter months. Make sure to check back in with CLI’s blog and follow us on Facebook to keep up with all the latest on what’s happening at CLI!
All over the United States, Mandarin Chinese immersion schools are growing in popularity. As early as kindergarten, American children are attending classes taught exclusively in Mandarin. The reasoning is simple: “Everybody gets that China is going to be hugely important in this century,” says the parent of one such child. And with nearly 80% of the students at these schools coming from non-Mandarin speaking households, it seems that learning Mandarin may well be the next big thing in American education.
In the following article, The Wall Street Journal’s Ben Worthen illustrates how more and more American students are saying “ni hao!” to Mandarin immersion.
22 August 2012 by BenWorthen | The Wall Street Journal
When kindergartners arrive at the Presidio Knolls School next week for their first day of class, they will be allowed to speak English only on the playground and at a few other times. Most classes will be taught in Chinese.
“There’s a real demand for this kind of learning,” says Alfonso Orsini, the head of the school, which is adding a kindergarten after several years as a Chinese-language preschool. Construction crews are working to finish the school’s campus, a former run-down church on 10th Street. The plan calls for eventually enrolling students through eighth grade.
The Bay Area is now home to 23 such Mandarin Chinese-immersion schools, according to one count, many of which have opened in the last few years. Some of the schools are private—Presidio Knolls among them—while others are public. Still others are charter schools, which are privately operated but receive public funding.
There are approximately 125 Mandarin-Chinese immersion schools in the country, according to Beth Weise, who runs a website for parents of Mandarin-immersion students. Five are in San Francisco, including Presidio Knolls and Aptos Middle School, which also begins a Mandarin-immersion program this fall, as well as a Cantonese-immersion school. Proponents of language-immersion education say the students learn more about all subjects and are better prepared to learn in the future. There’s little testing to substantiate the claim, but what exists shows that students may not perform as well in English early on but tend to perform better than their English-only peers in all subjects later.
Parents cite other benefits. “Everybody gets that China is going to be hugely important in this century,” says Ms. Weise, who has a daughter at Starr King Elementary, a public school in San Francisco with a Mandarin-immersion program. “If your kid grows up speaking English and Chinese, they will have an advantage.”
Chrissy Schwinn, a parent and board member at Yu Ming Charter School in Oakland, says she chose to send her daughter to the school because she and her husband “both traveled extensively and had noneffective language skills to participate in that culture.”
Yu Ming opened last year. This year, it received four times as many applications as there were openings.
The Mandarin-immersion schools in the Bay Area have different styles and approaches. Some split the day between teaching in English and Chinese, while others teach exclusively in Chinese.
At Presidio Knolls, the goal is to combine language immersion with a teaching style that designs lessons around subjects the students choose to study. If students are interested in fishing, the class might travel to a pier and a fish market in Chinatown before dissecting a fish back at the school. On the first day of kindergarten, the plan is for the children to decorate the classroom.
“A lot of Chinese immersion takes a traditional approach to which there is a lot of merit but also a lot of problems for kids who want to live in this century,” says Mr. Orsini.
As at many Chinese-immersion schools, the students at Presidio Knolls don’t necessarily come from families of Chinese backgrounds.
About 20% of the students are children of native Mandarin speakers. About 10% are kids who were born in China but adopted by American parents. Others either have parents of Chinese heritage, but who may not speak the language themselves, or come from families with no connection to China.
Finding teachers fluent in Mandarin and interested in the educational techniques Presidio Knolls wants to use has been a challenge. Those who will teach the kindergartners this fall include a Ph.D. student in Chinese literature and a teacher from a Chinese-language school in Singapore.
Presidio Knolls opened as a Chinese-immersion preschool in 2008 with six children. Today, it has 150 preschoolers and will enroll 16 later this month in its first kindergarten class. It moved from the Presidio to its new home on the former church campus to accommodate the growth. Kindergarten will cost $21,500 a year and run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Getting the kindergarten open is largely the work of Wendy Xa, whose daughter will be one of the first students. Born in the U.S. and fluent in Mandarin, Ms. Xa a former financial services executive, quit her job four years ago to dedicate herself to opening the school.
The renovations to build the first classrooms cost about $630,000, most of which was donated by members of the school’s board of directors, Ms. Xa says. She anticipates turning two other buildings on the campus into classrooms and other school space eventually, as well.
She hired Mr. Orsini, who was once her teacher at a New Jersey prep school, to run the place. He started in July. He says he speaks only rudimentary Chinese, but he doesn’t expect that to be a handicap.
This month, crews were busy gutting one old building on the campus, hurrying to convert it into classrooms. They also are building a large deck outside the building that overlooks the school’s courtyard and can serve a stage for plays and other gatherings.
Ms. Xa looks proudly at the transformation underway. “We’re going to focus on the development of the children as well as the language,” she says.
Read full article here.
Matt Kao, CLI Immersion Program student, wrote this week’s CLI Perspective. Before coming to CLI, Matt had previously been introduced to the Chinese language and culture through his father, who was born in Taiwan. However, this time Matt decided to immerse himself in the Chinese culture by studying Chinese in China. Find out how Matt’s views on China grew after traveling and studying in China.
By Matt Kao, Immersion Program Student
To say China and America are different is stating the obvious. But, before coming to Guilin, I never thought I would notice so many differences. The little things were the most noticeable, but before you call me out for being cliché, big things were noticeable as well.
I first came to China with my family two summers ago. It was only for a week and a half and we rushed through as much of Inner Mongolia and Beijing in that timeframe as we could. My father is Chinese, so I have been in close contact with the culture. Spending two entire months in mainland China allowed me to seriously slow down and truly experience everything that was going on around me. My friend Kian, on the other hand, had never been to Asia and has no blood ties to China. He did not know what to expect.
As soon as we landed, we headed to our apartment where we were more than pleased to see how spacious, comfortable, and convenient our living space was. It was clear from day one that CLI took great care of their students.
I will never forget the next morning when we passed a few staring natives and CLI local director Molin told us, “Yeah…you might get a few looks while you’re in Guilin”. Some may feel these stares are meant to scare, but in reality they are purely curious. Most of these Chinese have never seen tourists or been out of the country. During my whole stay here, I have not encountered one impatient local who wasn’t excited or willing to converse with me in my surely frustrating, broken Mandarin. I wish New York City could treat their tourists the same.
Our first trip outside of Guilin was to the Longji Rice Terraces in Longshan. I wanted to soak in all of the beauty of the extremely unique landscape, but it was truly too widespread for me to take in at one time. I seldom experience that feeling. Photos don’t do justice to all of the incredible views and sights we have seen in China. The city of Longshan was literally built on a mountain. One could often experience vertigo moving from one shop to the next. On Saturday night, the entire town was eerily silent by 10 P.M. I have been to many countries in my life, but few can go from bustling during the day to completely dead at night like China often does.
Our next trip was to Zhangjiajie, the inspiration for the floating mountains in the American film Avatar. It was so interesting to see, firsthand, what helped cause a global sensation in all its glory. Once again, the scenery was incredible and the mountains were countless. At the park, I noticed a difference from American parks. Parkgoers were given much more freedom. At Zhangjiajie, there were boundaries surrounding the mountains, but they were quite small. It was awesome being so close to nature, but I realized American parks would never trust their customers with so much freedom. For example, monkeys were within an arm’s reach of me! Even in Guilin, there seems to be a greater sense of freedom.
We also went to Maoershan, a mountain within the city area of Guilin. Unfortunately, during our trip, the rain and dense fog prevented a typical viewing experience from the mountain top. Yet I and Kian agreed, there was something so refreshing and mysterious of the calm, soft mist. It was definitely a nice change from the everyday heat and humidity of Guilin. Before we reached the top, we came upon a memorial remembering WWII American airplane fighters who crashed on the mountain during the war. It was a fascinating feeling to be at a spot halfway around the world where our country’s bravest gave their lives for us. It was even more amazing to note that little to no foreigners have ever been to Maoershan. I can only hope more great experiences will come in my last weeks at CLI.
CLI celebrated the red, white, and blue with its second full house of the summer season, welcoming students from a variety of universities and countries, as well as some Peace Corps volunteers. The language levels of CLI’s new students vary, but the hunger to learn Mandarin is felt by all. With each new day come new smiles of: “I’m getting it.” and “This language isn’t that tough after all.”
CLI’s teachers and students celebrated the Fourth of July with a lamb roast at a local Xīnjiāng restaurant (Xīnjiāng is a northwest autonomous region of China). The food was plentiful, the conversation rich, and the excitement of studying Chinese in China filled the air. With dinner completed and bellies full, the group congregated by the scenic banks of Guilin’s famous Li River for a firework show. The evening’s show was shared with many curious, friendly locals who were enjoying the river’s cool, refreshing water.
With the Fourth of July behind us and summer in full swing, CLI looks forward to welcoming new students to Guilin and sharing in each one’s language adventure.
Happy Fourth of July from CLI!
Students and teachers enjoy a feast fit for a king
Fireworks light up the Guilin sky
From airlines to retail and real estate, CLI has covered many recent news stories about the innumerable ways in which learning Chinese can open doors to success in the competitive world of employment. China is without doubt the most important market in just about every contemporary industry, and tourism is one of the fastest growing. According to the Huffington Post, “More than a million Chinese visited the U.S. in 2011, contributing more than $5.7 billion to the U.S. economy. That’s up 36 percent from 2010…. By 2016, that figure is expected to reach 2.6 million Chinese.”
A combination of Chinese speaking ability and knowledge of Chinese culture is invaluable in this new global context. Rich Harrill, director of the Sloan Foundation Travel & Tourism Industry Center at the University of South Carolina, said it best: “We’re not as ready as we should be. We don’t have the language skills. We have an opportunity to be on the ground floor of something that could be very, very big.”
CLI’s bottom line? It’s never too late to enroll in a Chinese language program to get that competitive edge.
At US hotels, Chinese treated to comforts of home
June 21, 2012 by Meghan Barr | Huffington Post
NEW YORK — Major hotel brands are bending over backward to cater to the needs of the world’s most sought-after traveler: the Chinese tourist.
Now arriving on American shores in unprecedented numbers thanks to a streamlined visa process and a rising Chinese middle class, Chinese tourists are being treated to the comforts of home when they check in at the front desk. That means hot tea in their rooms, congee for breakfast and Mandarin-speaking hotel employees at their disposal.
Chinese “welcome programs” at reputable chains like Marriott and Hilton even address delicate cultural differences: No Chinese tour group should be placed on a floor containing the number four, which sounds like the word for death in Mandarin.
“They’re very relieved, like finally somebody’s doing these things that make sense,” said Robert Armstrong, a sales manager who handles all bookings for incoming Chinese travelers at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. “Finally somebody’s catering to them.”
More than a million Chinese visited the U.S. in 2011, contributing more than $5.7 billion to the U.S. economy. That’s up 36 percent from 2010, according to the Department of Commerce. By 2016, that figure is expected to reach 2.6 million Chinese.
In a striking departure from the traditional Chinese business traveler, a growing number of them are simply coming to America for fun – with lots of cash on hand. (The average Chinese visitor spends more than $6,000 per trip.)
And so hotels are openly competing to win the hearts of the Chinese, who generally travel in large groups and stick to a tight itinerary, often packing multiple cities into a two-week American tour. What they’re looking for is a hotel that makes them feel at ease with their surroundings, said Roy Graff, a travel consultant who educates hotels in proper Chinese culture and hospitality.
That may take the form of slippers and a tea kettle in the hotel room or a Mandarin-speaking employee at the front desk – or all of the above.
“They drink tea. Eastern style, everything cold,” explained Charlie Shao, president of Galaxy Tours, a New York City-based Chinese tour agency, who used to frequently request special amenities for his clients. “They don’t walk inside the room with bare feet.”
It’s rare that Shao has to ask hotels for anything anymore. Marriott International, for example, now offers not one but several Chinese breakfasts, depending upon which region of China the traveler hails from: there are salted duck eggs and pickled vegetables for eastern Chinese, for example, and dim sum and sliced pig’s liver for the southerners.
Major chains are also training employees to avoid cultural missteps that would offend a Chinese visitor. Superstition is a big one: Red is considered a lucky color, along with the number eight, which signifies wealth. The color white, meanwhile, is frowned upon, not to mention the cursed number four.
Failing to respect the pecking order in a Chinese group is another common blunder by hotels that have limited knowledge of Chinese culture.
“We try to make sure nobody’s on a higher floor than their boss,” Armstrong said. “Even if the boss is on a beautiful suite on the eighth floor, if the assistant is in a standard room on the 38th floor, it doesn’t translate.”
As hotels fine-tune Chinese outreach stateside, the race is on to build loyalty within China’s borders.
Last year, Starwood Hotels – which has a Chinese “specialist” at each American hotel – relocated its entire senior leadership team to China for a month. The Ritz-Carlton rotates general managers and other hotel staff into its Chinese hotels for three-year stints at a time. And both chains are banking on the success of their customer rewards programs, which have been a big hit in China.
“It’s important for our leaders to understand what’s going on there at a more personal level than just the statistics,” said Clayton Ruebensaal, vice president of marketing for the Ritz. “Everybody’s going after this market because of the sheer volume of luxury customers. At the same time, it’s a very crowded landscape.”
In response to the surge in Chinese visitors, the State Department decided earlier this year to spend $22 million on new facilities in several Chinese cities and add about 50 officers to process visa applications. And in February, the U.S. government announced that Chinese visitors who had obtained an American visa within the last four years did not have to reapply in person but could apply via courier instead.
As a result, visa interview wait times in China are currently just under a week – compared to last year’s average of more than a month.
But some experts say the U.S. still lags far behind other countries, especially in Europe, when it comes to attracting Chinese tourists. Despite President Barack Obama’s recent push to promote tourism, America is woefully ill-prepared to welcome China at an industry-wide level, especially at restaurants and major attractions, said Rich Harrill, director of the Sloan Foundation Travel & Tourism Industry Center at the University of South Carolina.
“We’re not as ready as we should be,” Harrill said. “We don’t have the language skills. We have an opportunity to be on the ground floor of something that could be very, very big.”
Read full article here.
This weeks’s CLI Perspectives story is brought to you by Elia Sommerlad, a true citizen of the world, having lived in Africa, Latin America, Canada, The United States, and several countries in Europe. With fluency in five latin-based languages already under her belt, Elia’s most recent goal is to step outside of the familiar and tackle the world’s most spoken language – Chinese. Having built a basic foundation in Mandarin at the university level, Elia decided to take her language learning to the next level with CLI’s Immersion Program. How is she approaching the challenge? Read on for Elia’s insider thoughts on studying Chinese in China.
The Key to Cracking the Puzzle
By Elia Sommerlad, CLI Immersion Program Student
The classroom of life is where I learn best, where I can interconnect with the world around me by both contributing, learning and respecting it. At the age of 14, in 2006, I traveled for the first time to China. How different, I thought to myself. Although the streets were almost equally chaotic and active as those in my hometown of Florence, an entirely different, more vigorous and determined energy populated these streets. Now, at the age of 20, I realize how far China has advanced since then. Truly, the development is vast. Intrigued by a world so different from my own, I made it my goal to study Chinese.