The motivation for many who are learning another language is the additional income they expect to receive when they include the word “bilingual” on their resumes. However, I’m willing to bet that money is not the primary motivation for Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is learning to speak Mandarin. (Tag: Mark Zuckerberg Chinese Mandarin)
In 2012, the 34-year-old multi-billionaire married Priscilla Chan, the daughter of Chinese-Vietnamese refugees. Zuckerberg traveled to China with Chan before their wedding. That was undoubtedly a great opportunity to better understand the origins of his future wife. Also, the trip was an opportunity for Zuckerberg to plant the seeds for Facebook, which is still illegal in China.
Zuckerberg Demonstrates His Chinese Skills
Zuckerberg gave a speech and answered questions, entirely in Chinese, at Tsinghua University in 2014. Although his grammar and pronunciation had plenty of errors in grammar and punctuation, the effort was nonetheless impressive. Not many CEO’s would ever attempt to do this…especially the CEO of a company as successful as Facebook.
In 2016, Zuckerberg and Chan delivered a Happy Lunar Year message with their daughter Max. Again, it was another vulnerable attempt to use his newly-learned Chinese. There were still plenty of errors, but Zuckerberg’s improvement was evident.
Maybe YOU Should Learn Chinese
Are you a multi-billionaire who’s looking to expand your wildly successful company in China? Well, perhaps not. Nonetheless, there are many reasons for you to learn Chinese. First of all, it’s the most spoken language in the world. Granted, the overwhelming majority of those people live on the other side of the world. But still, learning how to communicate with all those people could create opportunities for you that you currently can’t imagine. Many companies are specifically looking for employees who speak fluent English and communicable Chinese. And they will pay good many to hire them.
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Another good reason to learn Chinese is the cultural depth you get from the experience. By tapping into the language of China, you become familiar with the mindset of that ancient culture. That worldly benefit cannot be overstated. The history, perspective and lifestyle of the Chinese people is endlessly fascinating. Learning their language is the gateway to adding all that culture to your intellect and worldview.
Nothing Casual About It
There are, however, some things you should know before you go after such a big goal. First of all, you’d better have a proactive approach to learning Chinese. Otherwise, it’s not going to happen and you will have wasted your time. We wrote a post on this topic; Maybe You Shouldn’t Learn Another Language.
Many people take a casual approach to learning a language. And while it’s certainly easier to approach a language casually, you shouldn’t expect anything more than casual results. One can argue that it’s possible to learn Spanish this way. That’s only because there are so many Spanish speakers in our country to practice with. With so many hispanohablantes (Spanish speakers) to talk to, you may very well improve your Spanish with occasional conversations and leisurely efforts.
Unless you have a bunch of Chinese speakers to practice with, however, you’re on your own. And perhaps it’s better that way…just you and some learning software or an online Chinese course by Duolingo. If you do this all alone, you won’t have any inhibitions about speaking foreign words. The reluctance to speak a foreign language in front of other people is often a huge stumbling block for language learners. Therefore, just learn it alone until the time is right for you to try it out with actual Chinese speakers.
If you’re currently learning Chinese or you’ve already learned to speak it well, please leave a comment below. Tell us about your experience. We’re curiously to know how you approached it. What worked and didn’t work for you?