Why Learn Mandarin Chinese
The sheer size of China commands attention. It is the world’s third-largest country and is home to 1.3 billion people, or one-fifth of the globe’s population. It is the world’s second-biggest economy after the United States and a major geopolitical player on the world stage.
Mandarin is currently spoken by nearly one-fifth of the world’s population. Mandarin speakers can be found in Mainland China, Taiwan, and diasporic Chinese communities throughout Southeast Asia, North and South America, and Europe. Because China is of one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Chinese is also an official UN language (along with Arabic, English, French, Russian, and Spanish).
Learning Chinese opens up a unique window into one of the world’s richest and most ancient civilizations. As soon as you begin studying the Chinese language, you begin learning about Chinese history, cultural values, philosophical and religious beliefs, and aesthetic traditions. And the more proficient you become, the more you will be able to appreciate and understand China’s past and present.
A Unique Skill
Chinese, for all its growing importance, still remains a rare language skill among Americans. In 2013, just over 60,000 American college students enrolled in a Chinese language program. In committing to study Chinese, you can look forward to being equipped with a still uncommon and highly valued second language skill.
Graduates with proficiency in Mandarin are well positioned for jobs in business, diplomacy, engineering, science, law, philosophy, political science, technology, finance, tourism, translation, teaching, and much, more.
In fact, a seminal study of languages in the U.S. jobs market found that Chinese is not only the most-requested language after Spanish by employers, but the language that has experienced the greatest growth in demand. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of job postings requiring Chinese language skills increased by 230 percent! In addition to working in a cross-border capacity, people who speak Chinese can support companies, nonprofits, and government agencies that market to and serve Chinese-speaking communities right here at home.
The United States has a significant Chinese-speaking population: approximately 3 million U.S. residents speak Chinese at home, almost two-thirds of which have limited English proficiency.
Uncle Sam Wants You
Like other non-Western languages that are deemed critical to U.S. national security, Chinese has been designated a Critical Needs Language. Numerous U.S. government agencies such as the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the NSA, USAID, Department of Commerce, and FBI actively seek employees proficient in Chinese for a wide range of jobs. Some of these agencies provide scholarships for students pursuing Chinese language studies as well as pay incentives for employees who bring Chinese skills to their job.
Adapted from John Carroll University, Chinese Studies Program
Mandarin Scholarships and Grants
Chinese Government Scholarships
Chinese Government Scholarships provide international students with funding to support both language study and degree programs at 279 Chinese universities.
Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program – Chinese
Run by the U.S. Department of State, the CLS Program is a fully funded overseas summer immersion program promoting the study of critical languages, including Chinese.
Freeman Awards for Study in Asia (Freeman-ASIA)
Administered by IIE, Freeman-ASIA Scholarships provide need-based funding to U.S. college students for study abroad experiences in East or Southeast Asia.
Ministry of Education Scholarships, Republic of China (Taiwan)
The Ministry offers multiple scholarships to encourage international students to study abroad in Taiwan.
National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) Program (+ high school)
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the NSLI-Y Program offers high-school students and recent graduates merit-based scholarships for overseas immersion opportunities to study less commonly taught languages, including Mandarin.
Shanghai Government Scholarships (SGS) for International Students
SGS provide funding for international students to complete undergraduate and graduate studies at a variety of Shanghai universities.
Taiwan-United States Sister Relations Alliance (TUSA) Summer Scholarship Program
U.S. undergraduates act as student ambassadors to Taiwan during TUSA’s 8-week language immersion experience.
Looking for a Mandarin Program?
While initially developed to report language enrollment figures, the MLA database provides a comprehensive listing of postsecondary language programs, allowing you to refine your results by language, geographic area, and/or type of institution. The data is based on MLA’s 2013 survey.
To Get Started:
- Select your language(s), up to eight
- Narrow your search, as desired, and click “search now”
- Expand your findings to reveal specific schools offering programs in your language by clicking on the small triangles on your results page