Type of foreigner Chinese learners

Type of foreigner Chinese learners

Why should I learn Mandarin Chinese? I don’t need to learn Chinese! I’m fine with just the basic and all my friends speak English so I don’t need to learn Mandarin. These are just a few common reasons why people may choose not to learn Mandarin Chinese. But for the rest of us, we do have a need or want to fulfill. Rather it’s to boost your career or just to immerge yourself into the surrounding culture even more, individuals find different reasons to study Chinese.


No matter your reasons, you’ll more than likely fall into one of the following categories.


Entrepreneur at large – These people whether from the US or Thailand see learning Mandarin not only as a tool but a necessity. They are enrolled or if not already completed several semesters at a local university putting in major hours of study. These learners never are done learning Chinese and even are daring to learn local dialects or different forms of Chinese such as Cantonese. These entrepreneurs are in the Mainland for the long haul and use Mandarin Chinese daily between their friends, colleagues, and employees. They’re comfortable in networking and are likely to surprise the local community with their fluency.


Bare bones – These learners are the low maintenance and easy to please. They have no interests in learning beyond 谢谢, 右拐, and the occasional 你吃了吗? Some people are really serious about learning Mandarin Chinese but these occasional speakers aren’t at all. They don’t see themselves in China for a long term. Also, they are enjoying their break year from their home countries or careers.


Travelers and back packers. These are your adventure seekers and China is just another stop. Going to Beijing and Xi’an have been on their travelers log and now it’s time to scratch these location off. These learners will take a few lessons or even a whole month or two just to get comfortable enough to ask for direction, ask how to remove the peanuts because of allergies, and ask how to buy two tickets. They are loaded with VPNs and Google translate so they’re prepared for any mishaps. When they are studying Chinese, they are more concerned with the necessities for traveling and accommodation. Their time in China is very limited so investing in semester’s worth of class and tuition isn’t in their budget which is already allocated for their next destination.


Wives, Husbands, and Partners with some extra time – Living in Shanghai you meet plenty of people from different walks of life. Eventually, you bump into someone whose husband or wife transferred their job to the Big Red. When the kids are at school and you have the whole day to yourself, you can’t go wrong with learning something new. Or you are taking a break from your career while your partner is at work, nothing wrong with learning Mandarin Chinese. These learners have time and probably will be in China anywhere from 2 plus years. Learning Chinese is a way to get comfortable within their new community, making things more convenient such as asking, ‘where’s the soy milk?’ These learners will enjoy meeting new people and see learning Mandarin Chinese as a new mountain to climb in a new land.


Social learner for the free - These guys and gals are social butterflies and learning Chinese will help them spread their wings even more. Whether it’s to tap into the local dating pool or feel more comfortable at parties, these learners want to learn Chinese to speak to more people. They are comfortable with taking a few classes but will be more comfortable with just being able to speak without any emphasis on reading or writing. Language exchanges and meetups are their bread and butter.


Student and seriousA good chunk of foreigners are enrolled in local universities or are even on a study abroad semester. These are students are have international business in their career path and learning Chinese will catapult them above their peers. Learning how to read, speak, listen, and write in Chinese provides opportunity for jobs, scholarships, and additional networking opportunities. Students can range from undergrads to MBA students. They are interested in studying Chinese for full time or looking to apply for a Chinese language based program. They are in China for a goal and expect to be in China anywhere from 2 to 4 years given they leave after completing their program.


In summary, each person wants to learn Chinese for different reasons and will fall into one of the above categories. It doesn’t matter if you’re a serious student or traveler, learning Mandarin Chinese isn’t easy but can be fulfilling and help you reach your goals. 

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