Recently, an exteremly hot discussion on whether English skills is that important on Sina.com.cn is brought to my attention. The original title is “Does English skills determine your fate?” The title sounds astonishing, doesn’t it?
It seems from the result of the vote, more people (50% vs 20%) agree with statement. While on the discussion board (Chinese site), most of participations complained about English’s aggression to Chinese’s territory.
I am also confused
I am also confused about this for a very long time. English has been successfully deployed to many countries as an international language. I write in English everyday and sometimes speak English. I see so many people struggling to learn and improve English – including me. Yes. I am very confused about what English really means to everyone.
Do we need mandarin, or Pu Tong Hua?
Let’s take a look of the mandarin in China. Lots of my friends and I grew up in Luoyang and can only speak mandarin. We has lost the ability to speak the Hennan dialect, which has existed and been inherited for more than 1000 years. Mandarin is a great threat to the local language. It is good on the other hand, that no matter where I travel in China, there is no language difficulties – it is the official and most popular language.
Surprisingly, I visited Tibetan area last month. The guide there can also speak fluent mandarin. This helped me a lot. However, I cannot communicate with the groom. This was quite bad. Many reports complain that the government is stealing the Tibet from the Tibet people by stealing their language. It can be true in some terms. It is not a matter of the government is stealing or not, it is just a matter of fact.
Not only my home or Tibet, every city, every town and every village is facing the same problem. Maybe only Beijing and some Northeast province can survive. So my question is, should I insist to speak the local dialect?
However, I also have friends who cannot speak mandarin. When they visit me in Shanghai, he cannot be understood by people there. This has brought him a lot of trouble. It is difficult for him to find a job or to find new friends – the reason is simple, nobody will learn his language just to understand him.
From my experience and my friend’s, I learnt that a language is mainly for communication proposes. Sometimes there are major languages that are widely accepted, and the broad acceptance make it easier for people to communicate, it is beneficial to learn it.
How about English
When English is concerned, it is hard. Since the government enforces the adoption of mandarin and it is within the same country, people won’t push back that much. However, if this adoption span across the border of countries, it will hurt the feeling of the people. It is reported that the people and government of France is working every hard to push back the aggression of English to their language.
No English, then what?
Today, I spent my whole day meeting with the representatives from all over the world. We have people come from Europe (UK, France, Finland, Norway, German, etc… ), from Middle East (Israel…), from Africa, Latin America, from Asia (China, India, Korea, Japan….). Of cause, there is lot of people from U.S.
The days session is conducted in English. I am surprised to find the English skills of European countries are very good, so does India. People from Asia tend to perform poorly in presentations. It is sad. This reminded me of the story of my friends. Just like that he cannot communicate with other people in China, we cannot easily communicate with others in the world. Yes. This is sad.
Meanwhile, it is very interesting that when I have meeting with people from Korea and Japan. It is a tough meeting. It is 100% percent sure that we need to speak English. Although I can only understand 30% of what the Japanese says and 70% of what Korean says, it is good enough since I can understand about 0% if they speak their native language.
It turns out when people using different languages meets, they need to find a common language that everyone can speak. English has been in place already. There is no doubt about it.
Certainly, we are not that comfortable to learn, imitate and speak the language that people in other countries are using, we have too learn something. English is the most practical one. My brother once studied the Interlingua (or the International Language) but he abundant at last. Interlingua successfully solves the problem that it does not force anyone to speak the language of the other – it is very equal ?everyone need to learn something that is completely new. But not so many people want to learn. It is a joke now, let alone it is still not fair since it looks like something between English and Spanish.
Not everyone needs English
For my friends and for my groom, if they don’t need to travel, it is definitely unnecessary to learn mandarin. For anyone who don’t need to go outside the country or meet with others come into the country, they don’t need to learn English either. However, without English skills, one does limits the scope he can reach and will lose so many opportunities.
I am still confused, but it is clear that English is important for me