The New World Order

Discussion
Apr 28, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Add Mandarin Chinese to the list of languages being taught to kids in schools today.


As the headmaster of Stuart, Florida’s St. Michael’s Independent School, Jim Cantwell, told The Associated Press, “China is becoming the world’s largest economy, and with one-quarter of the world’s population, we want to prepare our 21st-century students to be conversant with this culture.”


While the overall numbers of grammar and high school kids taking Chinese is still small, the number of programs being offered and students taking them is growing. A study conducted by Princeton University found enrollment in Chinese classes in grades K-12 grew from 14,490 pupils to 23,850 from 1997 to 2002.


William T. Dwyer High School, also in Florida, began offering Chinese as a language elective this year. Assistant principal Corrine Licata said, “Chinese is the language of the future, if not right now. We want to get our kids ready for the international market.”


More people speak Mandarin Chinese as a primary language than any other on the planet. English is second.


Moderator’s Comment: How is increased commerce with China affecting (changing) the domestic retail business? Where will the trading relationship with
China take U.S. businesses, workers and consumers?

George Anderson – Moderator

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9 Comments on "The New World Order"


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Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 10 months ago
I think teaching Chinese in schools is very wise. The Asian population here is still relatively small, but growing rapidly and having a significant impact. Obviously, trade with China will increase and fluency in the language will benefit today’s kids. But I also worry about their future. With China and other countries developing, the demand for oil is going to skyrocket and we have no real plan in the U.S., at least a plan that I trust. And having talked with many Chinese manufacturers (who are pretty fluent in English, by the way) at trade shows, I know many of them have quality product at prices far cheaper than we can produce here. Long term, I smell real trouble for U.S. manufacturers. Of course, I keep being told that Adam Smith and the Wealth of Nations is old hat and doesn’t apply anymore in the “new age.” But unless we have wiser leadership focusing more attention on the long haul instead of the quick fix, I see a bleak future for the next generation. I’d… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

China is still the world’s largest market, so Chinese is going to continue to be an important language. The real question is, will the Chinese join everybody else in the world — with the exception of the French — in accepting English as the universal language of business?

Len Lewis
Guest
Len Lewis
15 years 10 months ago

It would help if some business executives in the U.S. started taking courses in Mandarin too. If you’re not doing business with China now, you will be. I guarantee that Chinese business people are learning English at a rapid pace.

There are exceptions, but if you’re a U.S. company — retailer, producer or distributor — looking to do business with or in China, you better learn something about the language. At the very least, it’s the polite thing to do.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 10 months ago
One way that commerce with China is affecting the domestic retail business is counterfeiting. One of my companies sells health-related products strictly on-line, and many of our customers are in China. Recently we discovered a U.S.-based, Chinese-language website that counterfeits our patented products and rips off our graphics, contact information, company name, and company logo! They do have a unique telephone number, where a recording announces the name of OUR company in accented English, and then goes on in Chinese to explain whatever they explain. Nearly their entire website is in Chinese, which I wish I could read. English is taught as a foreign language in other countries, and taught very well. Since English is the international language of commerce, banking, and aviation – among others – it makes sense for it to be taught worldwide. But even though English is the second-most spoken language “on the planet,” non-English-speaking countries do not change their school curricula to accommodate English-only speakers. And yet, their English-trained students often speak the language better than many Americans. It’s definitely… Read more »
Lester Morrow
Guest
Lester Morrow
15 years 10 months ago

During my recent trip to China to visit manufacturing plants and attend the Canton Trade Fair, I realized that China has two armies; the military and the manufacturing workers producing everything for the new world economy. Well-trained workers dressed in company uniforms living in military style dormitories and reporting up through the chain of command to the company CEO is quite daunting to see.

China has reinvented itself with a new twist on Free Enterprise intertwined with Communism. China has not imitated Russia’s economic failure, but is capitalizing on both systems.

America is in for a rough ride until we “retool” ourselves to compete in the new world order that is here now.

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
15 years 10 months ago

How does this affect retail? Wal-Mart and other would-be global retail giants are going to have to trade in Chinese if they want to win. From managing retail locations in China to (most importantly) being able to negotiate supplier and buying contracts in Chinese, it will be important. Even if English remains the language of business, a business negotiator is at a disadvantage if he doesn’t understand the other party’s native tongue, his or her culture, and the subtle cues that go on during such talks…especially if the other side understands you and yours.

And Warren, don’t worry. I just heard President Bush say that we must end our dependence on fossil fuels. Finally! The answer? Coal. Really. So he gets it. I feel safer now.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
15 years 10 months ago
Len Lewis made a cogent point. If one intends to do business in China, it behooves one to learn the language. Is it necessary? Well, that all depends on how much the Chinese market needs your goods or services. Why be arrogant? Chinese firms wishing to trade in the US either learn English or hire English speaking people. This is pragmatic, and very good business. Speaking foreign languages is, I think, a stepping stone to cultural sensitivity, something I am always in favor of. Should we force children to learn Chinese because China is going to dominate the world? Fear based decisions are seldom effective. I tried to learn Mandarin. I purchased the US Marine Corp tapes. I listened every day on the way to work. At one point, during a 6 month stint in Hong Kong, I had a girl friend who only spoke to me in Mandarin. Today, I retain about 11 words. It’s a crime. To any and all who intend to interact with China in the future: learn the language. Learn… Read more »
Tom Zatina
Guest
Tom Zatina
15 years 10 months ago

Certainly, learning to speak Chinese is becoming more valuable. There will, no doubt, be many opportunities for those who can fluently speak the language and understand the culture. I think Ryan raised a great point regarding whether or not (or, to what extent) China will adopt English.

But the impact of China on our marketplace and on our economy will likely be most acutely felt via something Warren alluded to. That is China’s rapidly growing consumption of oil (as well as things like steel, etc.).

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 10 months ago
Way back when I was starting high school, I had to choose which language to learn. For some reason (perhaps premonition of a future to be lived in Europe), my preference was French. This my father vetoed, insisting that as we lived in New York, Spanish would be much more practical. Silly man. What I then spent the next six years learning was pure, lovely, romantic, Castilian Spanish. Nothing like the colloquial street language used by the residents of NYC who came from Cuba or Puerto Rico or anywhere in S America. It took another 25 years before I had an opportunity to use what I had learned and oh, how I could have been using my French all that time. More recently my daughter, who is fluent in Russia, spent a year in Beijing and was totally incapable of coping with Mandarin because the inflection of each syllable changes the entire meaning of what is being said. There is also an issue, with learning any language, of understanding the culture from which it comes.… Read more »
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