Having conquered the world’s markets, China’s countless millions have now embarked on a new mission – to master the English language, the global language of art and commerce.
The New Yorker has an interesting piece on the Chinese’ obsession with English in the latest issue:
China has been in the grip of â€œEnglish fever,â€ as the phenomenon is known in Chinese, for more than a decade. A vast national appetite has elevated English to something more than a language: it is not simply a tool but a defining measure of lifeâ€™s potential. China today is divided by class, opportunity, and power, but one of its few unifying beliefsâ€”something shared by waiters, politicians, intellectuals, tycoonsâ€”is the power of English. Every college freshman must meet a minimal level of English comprehension, and itâ€™s the only foreign language tested. English has become an ideology, a force strong enough to remake your rÃ©sumÃ©, attract a spouse, or catapult you out of a village. Linguists estimate the number of Chinese now studying or speaking English at between two hundred million and three hundred and fifty million, a figure thatâ€™s on the order of the population of the United States. English private schools, study gadgets, and high-priced tutors vie for pieces of that market. The largest English school system, New Oriental, is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Having watched the relentless determination of the Chinese for some time now, we have no doubt that in the not-too-distant future hundreds of millions in China will be speaking English as fluently as those in the West and certainly better than their Indian neighbors.
After all, compared to the Indians, the Chinese are more determined and way smarter.
While Indians focused on software, which benefits only a small section of people, the shrewd Chinese poured their energies into growing their hardware sector (comprising of computer, electronics, white goods, etc) that has helped to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
While Indian leaders boast about the country’s vaunted democracy and mouth phony concerns for the toiling and hungry millions in the villages, the Chinese leadership has accomplished far more in raising the living standards of China’s poor.