TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Do you think that our children will be left behind economically if they do not learn Chinese?

I am trying to find out if language skills have become a lost art. Do we even care about learning languages. If we don't care, our kids won't care. Does it even mattter?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Mar 8 2011: I will write of language in general to set a little foundation for discussion and comment based on personal experience.

    I believe language is essential, especially in its diversity. The existence of multiple languages provides different structures of thought which I believe are essential for progress and problem resolution. I grew up seamlessly with 2 languages and have found that when I can't toggle a problem re-framing it in another language usually helps me look at it from a different perspective, providing more tools for resolving the problem.

    I feel that language skills have become a lost art in English speaking countries, primarily because it has become such a dominant language in commerce and other fields. Living in Cancun, a tourist rich environment, I can see the cultural difference between tourists from English speaking countries and other countries. I notice a higher level of common sense as well as a much stronger integration, acceptance, and cultural grasp of Mexico from visitors of non-english speaking countries. I would like to state clearly that I am generalizing and mean no offense to any culture.

    Conclusion: Language diversity is essential. Linguistic diversity in our children is a treasured gift that should not be discarded. Specifically for Chinese, it is what almost 1/5 of the worlds population speaks, and with the country opening up will be a vital skill. I firmly believe everyone should know at least 2 languages though more is entirely optional. And it is upr to parents to care since it is much easier to learn at a young age and it becomes part of our though process.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.