Monday, June 21, 2010

Krashen on the usefulness of Mandarin

Sent to The Commercial Appeal, Memphis Tennessee
June 15, 2010

**I am all in favor of Mandarin. In fact, I am trying to acquire some Mandarin myself. But the popularity and usefulness of Mandarin for American students has been exaggerated ("French not 'fini,' but Chinese challenging its place in language classrooms," June 11).**

**About 100,000 students are in Mandarin classes in high and college in the USA, and a large percentage are "heritage language speakers" who already speak at least some Mandarin from home. **

**In contrast, it has been estimated that at least 300 million people are studying English in China (about 80 million in elementary and high
school) and at least 15 million children are studying English in Taiwan, where it is a required subject in school. **

**For every American studying Mandarin, there are at least 300 residents of China and Taiwan who are studying English. **

**Even assuming that all Chinese speak Mandarin (they don't), the chances of an English speaker speaking Mandarin better than the Mandarin speaker speaks English is remote.**

**It will be a while until Mandarin will help Americans in the business world. **

**Stephen Krashen**



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