Mandarin is the most common dialect of the Chinese language, spoken by over 730 million people. It is based on the dialect of Beijing, the capital of China, and it has been established as the official form of the language by the Chinese government. With more native speakers than any language in the world, learning Mandarin is an important way to understand and appreciate the ancient culture, famous cuisine, and influential philosophy of one of the world’s great civilizations.
With a $14 trillion GDP according to the World Bank, China is also the second largest economy in the world after the United States. Led by electronics manufacturing powerhouses like Huawei and Haier as well as tech companies like Alibaba and Tencent, China has established itself as a powerful force in the global economy, and there are vast opportunities there for international companies owing to its export industries as well as its growing consumer market. Learning Mandarin is thus an incredibly valuable asset in the business world, allowing speakers to conduct negotiations and socialize with their counterparts in their native language.`
Because of its central role in the global economy, even basic Mandarin skills can help you open doors - and close deals - across a wide range of business careers. If your company has an international supply chain, or sells into global markets, there’s a good chance that speaking Mandarin will create new opportunities by enabling communication with Chinese business owners in their native language.
If you achieve fluency in Mandarin speech, writing, and grammar, you can pursue an exciting career as an interpreter or translator. Helping Chinese business, political, and cultural leaders communicate effectively in English - and for English-speaking businessmen, politicians, and artists get their message across in Mandarin - can be rewarding work full of travel and meeting interesting people. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, interpreters and translators earned a median annual salary of $51,830 in 2019, and economic globalization is expected to drive faster-than-average growth in these jobs.
Yes - or, duì, in Mandarin Chinese! Coursera gives you opportunities to learn languages from around the world, including courses in beginning and intermediate-level Mandarin. You can take courses from top-ranked schools in China including Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, National Taiwan University, allowing you to learn remotely from native speakers. And, because Coursera lets you view and complete course materials on a flexible schedule, you learn these valuable language skills while maintaining your existing work or family life.
Anyone can learn Mandarin if they have the desire to do so. But before you get started, it helps to be familiar with the languages tones, characters, and word order. Knowing this ahead of time makes it easier to dive into things, but it’s not a necessity. It does help to be familiar with how you best learn. For example, do you learn better by hearing someone else, by reading, or by repeatedly reciting words and phrases? Knowing how you learn best will help you choose courses and instructors that will best meet your learning style. Additionally, before learning Mandarin, you should have focus and drive because learning the Chinese language requires a certain amount of dedication.
Learning Mandarin might be the right option for you if you want to join the millions of people studying it as a second language for business or if you're simply interested in the culture. It’s the most widely spoken global language, which gives those proficient in it an advantage when working with the Chinese business market, when traveling in Taiwan or China, and when delving into Chinese architecture, history, or music. Mandarin is also spoken in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Thailand.
Some topics related to Mandarin that you might be interested in studying include fundamentals of Chinese character writing, Chinese culture, and Chinese medicine. Chinese character writing can be particularly useful to help you master writing in Chinese and gaining the ability to distinguish between the different types of symbols in the language. Learning more about the culture can help reinforce your drive to study the language and your understanding of the history and current life of Chinese people, the elements of their social structure, and customs.
If you can speak and understand Mandarin, it might open a variety of career options up for you at companies hiring people with a background in the language, which include the court system, educational institutions offering English as a second language, and some city and governmental jobs. Additional places that might be looking for someone proficient in Mandarin include companies that require a lot of travel overseas, including major corporations, global marketing organizations, and research or financial analysis firms.