Mandarin Editorial

One in every five people speaks Mandarin Chinese.  It is one of the only languages spoken in six out of the seven continents and is the most commonly spoken language in the world.  While the language curriculum at our school does not lack variety, the school’s removal of the Mandarin program effectively closed the door to non-romantic language learning at Schreiber.

In 2011, Schreiber’s Mandarin program was forced to shut down after a reallocation of budget funds.  Students now only have access to French, Italian, Latin, and Spanish.  Even though having this many language programs in the first place is an accomplishment in its own right, all of these languages are romantic and stem from Vulgar Latin.  In contrast, Mandarin is a logographic (uses symbols when written to express words) language that does not connect in any way to Spanish, French, Latin, or Italian.  It has a whole different learning style and would expose students to a unique way of thinking about how we communicate.  

Mandarin is considered a harder language to pick up, but it is an invaluable skill.  Only three million people in the US speak the language, and while that may seem like a lot, let us put that in perspective: our country has approximately 239 million English speakers and over 41 million Spanish speakers.  There are numerous college and summer opportunity scholarships involving Mandarin speakers, and adding it to your resume would not only show how hardworking you are, but it would show a passion for learning about non-Eurocentric cultures and languages different from your own.  In times like these, language helps us come together and build connections with others.

China is a recognized part of the United Nations Security Council and has the second-largest economy in the world.  The US desperately needs more Mandarin speakers, and the language has even been deemed a Critical Needs Language or language that would strategically help with national security.  Additionally, according to a survey done by the New American Economy, “U.S. employers advertised over 3 times as many jobs for Chinese language speakers in 2015 than 2010.”  The demand for Mandarin knowledge is growing as we speak.  Why wouldn’t students want to learn a language that gives them a leg up in life and provides them with new, exciting options?

Adding Mandarin back to our language curriculum would be extremely useful to students later in life and would provide us a priceless opportunity to learn about an out-of-the-box language that one-fifth of the world’s population speaks.