It’s been twenty some years now, but I can still clearly remember the 10
I was standing in a long line to register for classes on a cloudy cool
morning at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. A
stranger behind me asked me what I was planning to register for and I told
him I was going to register for Mandarin Chinese classes. “That’s going to
be a valuable one to learn,” he said.
He was right, and not just valuable in a monetary sense; but more
importantly for me – a personal one. Learning Mandarin, even as rusty as I
am now, has led me to a greater self of satisfaction and improved
confidence. Through my studies in Mandarin Chinese, I was able to expand my
world and befriend, converse with and appreciate a culture far different
from the one I came from. Through Chinese, I was able to talk to my Korean
and Japanese friends, who didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Korean or
Japanese. Mandarin was our common language.
Knowledge is power and learning Mandarin provided me some powerful and
So it’s without surprise I recently came across an article on Quartz.com
by Brown University economist, Emily Oster, who stated the Mandarin is the
most useful language to learn from an economics point of view. With 14% of
the world’s population speaking it, Mandarin Chinese is, and will continue
to be not only important as China rises in economic importance. Many of
those that speak Mandarin do not speak English, which would make your
Mandarin Chinese skills valuable in many ways.
You don’t have to go to college to study Chinese and it’s never too late to
open yourself up to a new, wonderful world. The Northwest China Council in
Portland offers Mandarin language classes for different levels, from
absolute beginner through advanced speakers. For more information, see Language
Classes on the Northwest China Council website.
Submitted by Joe Liston