Mandarin is no fad. Business elites teaching their children

I recently attended a conference on education. One of the speakers, who works all around the world for GE, said American kids should be learning Mandarin because of China’s tremendous importance and because, she believes, in ten or twenty years, Chinese business people will expect to speak Mandarin, not English, in business meetings.

One of the world’s most famous and successful investors, Jim Rogers, says moving his family to Singapore in 2007 so his children could learn Mandarin was “far and away” the best investment decision he ever made. Rogers encourages everyone to “Teach your children Mandarin, teach your grandchildren Mandarin and learn Mandarin yourself” because “Mandarin will be the most important language of the 21st century.”

And today’s New York Times profiles Applied Materials' Mark Pinto (a famous Silicon Valley techie) and the sparkling new four-football-field-sized research lab in Xian, China he’ll be running. The article makes clear China is already ahead of American in some industries, like clean energy. It also shows two more forward-thinking American parents encouraging their children to learn Mandarin. Years before moving his family to China, Pinto was already teaching his children Chinese:

With China’s economy gaining strength, Mr. Pinto and his wife, then living in Santa Clara, began insisting in 2005 that their sons study Chinese once a week.

Now 10 and 11, the boys are improving their Chinese and mastering the art of eating with chopsticks.

Posted by James on Thursday, March 18, 2010