Ning Normal University
through the Peoples Republic of China, BA Politics
Why Mandarin Chinese is offered at St. Andrew’s:
60% of fortune 500 management is bilingual; 40% of those speak Mandarin and the number is growing each year
Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world
Spoken Mandarin is easier to learn then most think – the written form is complex, but spoken form has: No subject/verb agreement, no plurals, no conjugations, no tenses, simple numbering system that is applied to dates and time expressions, simple conditional sentences and simple prepositions.
As less people speak Mandarin then European languages, the demand in business is greater for those who do speak Mandarin.
China is rapidly becoming a world economic power (no matter how we feel on that) as it opens its doors to foreign investment.
The Chinese are rapidly expanding their online presence; so working with companies in an increasingly online community it will be helpful to know Mandarin.
Why Second Languages at a young age:
We are born with all the neurons we will ever have. By the age of 6-10 years the area of our brain that acquires second languages begin to have neurons fall off (aka: die).
If those neurons are strengthened, similar to when we use a muscle, before age 10 they will not wither away and we can use them throughout life. Though if left unused for a long period, they will start to wither again, so practice is important.
When they are not used prior to age ten, we then switch to a different part of our brain to learn a second language – this area allows us to memorize, but the translation piece is in a different area. This causes learning a second language to become much more complicated and long-term storage is not as accurate.
When we learn a second language prior to age 10 we can learn the native sounds, that later we are unable to hear. This allows for true fluency or accent free speaking. After age ten this is near impossible to acquire.
We learn our first language through multiple forms; emotional, tactile, auditory, and memorization.
When taught a second language before age 10, these same modalities are likely still used. After age 10 we rely just on memorization.
Having a second language allows for the acquisition of additional languages much more easily – math, science and music are all languages. So being bilingual often leads to increased learning of these other languages.
Being bilingual has been shown to increase problem solving ability, standardized test scores and organization skills. Again, becoming truly bilingual usually can only happen if exposed to a second language prior to age 10.
Being bilingual increases sensitivity and interest of other cultures.
Being bilingual allows for more employment opportunities.
Bilingual people who get Alzheimer’s show symptoms later and have fewer symptoms. They still have the same age of onset, but the symptoms are less severe and are reported to become more severe at a later age. (Study released March of 2011).