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learning english

learning english

the current debate on CSAT test has many advocates for the test. there main arguments are that english is the link language between india and the world and therefore its knowledge and competence in it are essential. those opposing the test are hindi fanatics who do not want to take the trouble of learning the language. the all india services are meant for the best amongst the aspirants and the competence in english is prerequisite for choosing the best. english is the current language for international contacts and that is that.

while the debate is still raging, i was interesting in the argument about its being international language and how other non english speaking states are dealing with this phenomenon. tried to find out how many are learning english in china. the internet was not helpful. all it would say is that many students are learning it and there is need for good english teachers but statistics are missing.

it is known that china is number two economy in the world now. it is the favourite for FDI. the trade with china has seen phenomenal rise. so how do the foreigners i.e. americans deal with chinese clients. just tried to find some trends. the figures available are not upto date but best i could lay hands on.

There are at least 50 Chinese-language immersion programs at U.S. schools for children in grades 12 and below year 2008), compared to about a dozen six years ago. the number of K-12 public school students in the United States learning a Chinese language rose to nearly 60,000 in 2008, from about 20,000 in 2005, according to a report from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. it approaches the 73,000 students learning Japanese. Similar to today's interest in Chinese, enrollment in Japanese jumped in the 1980s with that country's economic growth, language experts said.

in the united states chinese is the seventh most popular language other than english. more popular are spanish (822,985), french (206,426), german (94,264), american sign language (78,829), italian (78,368), and japanese (66,605). chinese enrollments, however, are rising. In 2002, the MLA found 34,153 students studying the language at the colleges and universities it surveyed. chinese enrollments rose 51% from 2002 to 2006. Only arabic enrollments had risen faster during the period, some 126%, to 23,974.

most attribute the great rise in chinese enrollments to china’s rising economic strength and overall prominence. In earlier decades, japanese enrollments rose along with interest in japan’s economic growth and its culture. In 1960, chinese enrollments were slightly higher than japanese ones from 1960 to 1980. With japan’s 1980s economic bubble, however, enrollment in japanese raced ahead. in 1986, 23,454 were studying japanese compared to 16,891 in chinese language courses. but things have changed. according to bloomberg’s 2011 ranking of the world’s top business languages, (other than english) chinese placed first over french, arabic and spanish. the rankings took into account the language’s popular and geographical presence and the educational and literacy rates and financial power surrounding its distribution. ten to 30 years from now chinese will be the biggest international language in the world

The  US census bureau released a report on tuesday that shows nearly 2.9 million people speaking chinese in 2011, which is a 360 percent increases from statistics in 1980. chinese has become the third most spoken language in the country, following english and spanish as the first and second most spoken languages respectively.

now come to india. india and america have also had good trade relations, which have rapidly increased in the last two decades, particularly in the tech, education and manufacturing sectors. in 2007 the united states exported $17,588.5 million to india an increase of 971% since 1985. in 2007 the united states has imported $24,073.3 million in goods from india, an increase of 949% since 1985.

so what about learning hindi, the most common language in india, in 2006, 1,946 higher education students were studying hindi,  no measurable amount of students studying it in grades K-12 was available.

those who favour english due to its international character would like to ponder over why chinese have been able to become the largest trade partner with united states despite such a poor record of knowledge of english. they are learning english but the americans have also to learn chinese. it is a reciprocal arrangement, not official but forced by the circumstances.

it is said that in fifteen years or so, india will become the third largest economy in the world. its trade will grow enormously. would it force americans and others to learn our languages. or will we continue to be linguistic slaves learning their language and forcing all our officers to know their language in preference to indian languages. time to think about it

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