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Chat in foreign languages or discuss language-learning.
I knew teachers in Korea who had lived there for years but still hadn't learned the Korean alphabet. There are only 24 letters in the Korean alphabet. Chinese characters would be much more difficult to learn.
No kidding. It took me four years of basically full-time study to become literate. The good news is it takes a fraction of that to learn to speak Mandarin.
More reasons to not learn Mandarin:
"For U.S. students, China's notorious pollution is a concern. Job opportunities are another. As multinationals in China hire mostly local Chinese, a growing percentage of whom have studied abroad, they have less need for foreigners who speak Chinese. 'I came to China thinking I could learn Chinese and get a high paying job. I learned very quickly that was not the case,' said Ian Weissgerber, a 25-year-old American graduate student in China. 'A lot of Chinese can speak English just as well as I can, and Chinese is their native tongue too.' Gordon Schaeffer, research director at UCEAP, says surveys suggest the decline in study abroad programs in China might also reflect students' migration to science and technology majors, where courses need to be taken in sequence....
"Enrollment in all foreign language courses at U.S. higher education institutions fell 6.7 percent between 2009 and 2013, according to the MLA study. 'It really comes down to money,' says John Thomson, a veteran China study abroad executive. 'You're taking yourself out of the job market for a couple years to study an extremely difficult language with no guaranteed pay-off at the end'. "
http://news.yahoo.com/u-students-losing ... iness.html
" 'They don’t necessarily want us here,' says Mathew Alderson, a Beijing-based lawyer for international law firm Harris & Moure. 'America is a nation built on migrants, but China can’t say the same.'....
"Given the choice between a Westerner with decent Mandarin and an educated, English-speaking local applicant, companies will favor the Chinese. 'We almost only recruit PRC nationals or Chinese speakers,' says Thorneman. Those candidates—bright Harvard- and Wharton-educated returnees—are multiplying. In 1995 fewer than 24,000 Chinese students went abroad for education, according to EIC Group China, a provider of educational services. By 2010 that number had risen to 285,000. Not only are Chinese-born prospects more abundant and better suited to the environment, they’re also cheaper. Hiring a foreigner from a developed country to work in China costs 50 percent to 200 percent more than a local hire, according to a 2011 study by human resources consulting firm Aon Hewitt (AON)....
"Mandarin can count as a skill, but the bar is high. After studying the language for four years in college, a bright American will still talk like a precocious eight-year-old, whereas Chinese students start learning English as eight-year-olds. There are 5,000 times as many Chinese primary and secondary school students studying English as American students learning Mandarin, according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. One possible reason: The time it takes to achieve Mandarin fluency could be spent learning a profession—law, say, or molecular robotics—that would serve as a better pretext for living in China than knowing the language."
http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/20 ... -are-scant