Do we need to learn Mandarin?


Tesco Chairman Promotes Mandarin Lessons 3/3/09


David Reid, chairman of Tesco PLC, criticized the U.K. educational system for not teaching enough Mandarin in its schools. According to Mr. Reid only 10 percent of schools in the U.K. offer language lessons in Mandarin as part of the curriculum.

According to a report by The Scotsman, Mr. Reid told an audience at the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland, “This has to change. The unprecedented speed and scale of changes in China means the U.K. cannot afford a slow transformation, as that will deny British young people the support they need to best prepare them for a future in which China will play a big role.”

Mr. Reid has the support of Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, in seeking to expand Chinese language and cultural programs. Mr. Brown said in January, “If we are to make the most of our relationship with China, we need to understand China better, through our schools, universities, cultural institutions, our businesses and in government. I am determined to do that.”

Discussion questions:  How critical is it for Americans to learn Mandarin for U.S. businesses to remain competitive in the future? Are there other languages that are equally or more important for American workers to learn? Is the American educational system adequately preparing students for an increasingly global marketplace?

My post: 

English standards in American schools must improve markedly.  English will remain the primary language of business for the foreseeable future.  However, learning a second language is also a critical skill – not only for working in an increasingly global workplace, but also for learning about world cultures and helping to avoid fundamentalist attitudes.  Mandarin, Hindi, Arabic and Spanish would be the key languages for helping ready our youth for possible international work opportunities – but any of them will do for the purpose of expanding minds and hearts.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

Go to the full discussion at


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