Chinese is the Future

Ni hao. That’s “hello” in Chinese — arguably the most basic word in any language. Pronounced “nee-how,” as you can see, it bears no resemblance to the way we say “hello” in English. So it’s not a huge surprise that there are only seven people in my class.

Chinese is hard. My Chinese class serves a full grade level — about 75 students. With my class as a sample, only about one in 10 upper schoolers at University Prep take Chinese.

Although it’s hard, it’s insanely worth it to learn Chinese. If the language is completely foreign to 9 out of every 10 future adult Americans, that means bad things for America’s future.

And it just so happens that China, the main Chinese-speaking country, is a really important country. For instance: what country has the most people? China. What country makes the most stuff? China. What country has the fastest trains, the biggest cities, (a lot of) the tallest buildings, and the most technology in everyday life? You get the point.

Right now, English is the overlord of languages in the world. That’s why it’s so awesome to travel to other places as an English speaker — everyone speaks (at least some of) your language. Speakers of other languages don’t have that pleasure.

Now, English is the most dominant language for a reason. The United States and the rest of the English-speaking world are really powerful. America, for now, has the biggest economy in the world, the (arguably) most stable government, etc. But as China comes knocking on our metaphorical door with technology, trains, and tall buildings, Chinese could replace English at the top of the world.

That would mean, instead of Chinese speakers speaking broken English when they interact with English speakers, English speakers will be the ones struggling to get out simple Chinese.

It’s more than likely that sometime in the future, we will see a global transition of sorts from English to Chinese. Most of us will be straggling behind, unable to keep up with this world that’s based on a language that we fail to understand — but that doesn’t have to be you.

Remember: it’s never too late to transfer language classes.