Speak English or die!


Beijing is set to become a ‘world city’. What is a ‘world city’ you ask? Well naturally, it’s a city where the majority of the population living within it…can speak English. Why? Because English is the most spoken language in the world – oh wait, no it isn’t – Mandarin is.

So why are authorities looking to get at least 60 percent of shop assistants, receptionists and…hairdressers under the age of 40 to pass an English exam by 2015. Or 80 percent of police officers to follow suit.

The programme is touted to provide “greater convenience to foreigners working or studying within the capital and enhance international relations and co-operation.” Sounds great! I wonder now if Melbourne will likewise be forcing 60 percent of its citizens to undertake Chinese lessons. I would like to see that happen…

China is going to great lengths to bring itself into the modern world. Much of its transformation appears to be simply submitting to the western ‘norms’. I often wonder whether their own culture is going to become so watered down that it barely exists.

I for one enjoy learning Chinese, and enjoy reading about Chinese culture. I feel like that in my country at least, I’m in somewhat of a minority – though I may be wrong. I am fascinated by foreign language, even if most days that it feels like I am climbing an impossibly large mountain, and will never actually get to the summit.


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8 Responses to “Speak English or die!”

  1. Henry Says:

    Most of the world uses English as a second language so clearly learning English will make things much easier. Outside of East/South East Asia no one uses Chinese as a second languange. Think about it…

  2. Marcus Says:

    Oh I agree, it’s definitely going to make things easier – but I wonder if all this emphasis on English is going to one day, water Mandarin right down to the point where it actually affects it as a language.

  3. Chandan Says:

    I only hope, that for this little convinience and internationalization, the city dont loose its wonderful roots and culture, with main emphasis on the life experience, and mutual respect.

    language is fine, but personally, i feel, there uniqueness and beauty should be retained in every possible way.

  4. Onlooker Says:

    Culture is not a fixed thing. The old Chinese culture died long time ago and the new one is yet to be born. Today’s Kunfu/KongPao/TouFu may not be relevant in tomorrow’s China. That is where China is winning the game of evolution – it is evolving and growing and learning. English is a necessary tool, westerners still got more money and better ideas in many ways for the time being. But the young people in China think time is on their side. That’s the most scary part

  5. Marcus Says:

    Interesting, though I dont neccessarily agree that the old Chinese culture has died out. Look at the way the country is still based around the family unit, and how affected that has become by the one child policy and similar. From what I saw, the old culture was definitely alive and kicking, but was somewhat smothered by this rush into the modern world. It’s the collision of the two of them which has caused so many interesting changes…or more accurately, conflicts.

  6. Steve Says:

    I spent some time in a rural part of the Hunan province a while ago, I was the only person who spoke English in the town. It felt very nice to get away from it. A China with all English won’t be the same. Check out my sit on the story of my travels. (not a good ending)

  7. Marcus Says:

    What do you mean by it felt nice to get away from it? Nice to get away from being the only english speaker? Or nice to get away from the English language?

    I swear, one of the things i noticed most when returning to Australia was the…privacy invasion…or similar, of being able to hear conversations around me.

    I had gone from being able to talk about ANY TOPIC out loud with people around me who had absolutely no comprehension, nor I of them, to being suddenly aware of other peoples conversations, and them mine.

    Man, I do miss that particular part of it.

    I’ll have to read your blog, a bad ending in China can be an interesting read 🙂

  8. Ethio Boy Says:

    Guys what was the topic? and what are you talking about? mainly it is great decision that beijingians are preparing them selves to communicate in English. As it is the only language making influence in the existing world. Recall back the history, it was the result of the England invasion and donation for English schools. Now china is opening many chinese schools all over the world as a diplomatic cooperation and chinese business is growing people are getting interested to come to china and many are studying chinese. With all the dynamic minds and hard working citizens. Mainly a citizen with great love to its mother land. I don’t have any double that few years latter china will be the super power except the USA organized 3rd world war.
    Any I have no words to express how hell it is to live in a community which you can’t understand and they also don’t understand you. Even there can be some circumstances that you really need people for emergency. Like let’s say there has been fire in your room. if you call 116 for fire emergency no one will understand the word fire it self. Can you imagine how life will be harsh?
    I do suggest the chinese should work hard on English.

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