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  • The HSA

Learning Chinese: how to future-proof your skill set

Updated: Jan 31, 2019

In the next 10 years, what will the job market look like? With the emergence of SMART technology, artificial intelligence, robotics and big data, it is reasonable to expect our future economy will bear little resemblance to its current form. Office jobs are expected to change, as more administrative and clerical tasks become automated. Manual skills will be less in demand. Banking, a role at the centre of the UK financial industry, will likely become a thing of the past. Instead, the skills needed to succeed in future are social skills, creativity, multi-disciplinary thinking and initiative. For educators, this is a challenge and an exciting opportunity.

So which skills set you apart? Mandarin Chinese has been named as one of the most important languages for the UK’s future prosperity. Alongside business skills, coding and robotics, the Government has emphasised the value of Chinese as a second language. In 2016, the Department for Education launched the Mandarin Excellence Programme to prepare future generations for the global market. By 2020, the programme will have 5,000 secondary school students on track to fluency in Mandarin Chinese.

1. It is the future language of business

Approximately 1.2 billion people speak Mandarin and it is the language of the world’s second biggest economy. As well as China, Mandarin is spoken in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Being able to communicate in Chinese sets you apart in the workplace and opens the door to international opportunities. 

2. Develop interpersonal skills

Languages are all about people – listening and understanding them. I’ve found my students become more confident speaking, more aware of their body language and are better at empathising with their peers.

3. Immerse yourself in a new culture

Chinese culture is fascinating. For students who want to learn beyond the GCSE Chinese curriculum, we develop pen pal relationships, so they can learn about family life, try Chinese food, and read Chinese novels or poetry.

4. Boost your brain power

Evidence shows that if you speak two languages, dementia is less likely to set in and you become a better multitasker. It boosts memory, creativity and comprehension skills. 

5. Learning a language is fun!

Learning Mandarin is easier than you think. There are no verbs, plurals, tenses, or conjugations. ShoaLan’s Learn to read Chinese… with ease! shows you that, while a Chinese scholar would understand 20,000 characters, you need only 1,000 to understand basic literacy. It’s a logical language which can be taught through games, songs and art.

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