I started learning Mandarin Chinese when I was just 14 years old and have never turned back. I was lucky enough, to have classes available to me at my school, who now make it part of the curriculum from 11 years old. But why bother?
Mandarin, the most spoken language in the world. With over 1 billion speakers, it has now become part of our society. But is it really, ’The Language to Learn’?
China has the 2nd Largest Economy in the world, is the largest populated country in the world and is one of the largest countries in the world by surface area. It is well known that the Chinese economy is ever-expanding and many western law firms now have multiple offices in the metropolitan cities of Shanghai and Beijing, but does this mean we will all be speaking their language any time soon?
As for me, I didn’t start learning Mandarin because of the business or the economy but instead for the culture and for the chance to spend two weeks in China last summer. I was then oblivious to any opportunities it may give me in later life; but I now perfectly understand just how important a role the language could possibly play in my career and future.
Internationalism is an increasing part of the legal world; with many worldwide law firms it is no doubt that they will be searching for multi linguists to work for them. With the size of the current Chinese market, law firms from all over the world are flocking to the expanding country where there is money, there is opportunity for legal work. The Chinese law firms still stand very prominent in the country and many have started to set up offices in the Western World such as Yingke and Zhonglun W&D, two of the largest Chinese firms.
As a Young Linguist studying A Level German, GCSE Mandarin and a bit of Spanish, I believe that it is very important that we get to grips with foreign languages, because as much as some people would like to believe, the world is not going to learn English for us!
In my opinion, British culture tells me that most of us will not bother to spend time learning the language however professionals such as lawyers and bankers know that it is the right move and will start getting the dictionaries out as soon as possible.
As for me, my Mandarin is improving but still has a long way to go; and a degree in German with Mandarin sounds like it should do some good.
Whatever the language, Mandarin or Afrikaans, languages help us in a social, business and personal level. They help with employability and languages are the key, to open up a world of opportunities.