The Chinese language is spoken by over 1 billion people in the world, with more native speakers than any other language. Learning Chinese language communication skills is important to be able to understand the vast, diverse country of China and its unique, incredibly influential culture. Whether you want to deepen your appreciation of the country’s ancient philosophies and religions like Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, travel to famous tourist destinations like the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City, or explore its “8 Great Cuisines” including Szechuan and Cantonese, learning Chinese is an invaluable skill.
Chinese is also an increasingly-important language for business. According to the World Bank, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019 surpassed $14 trillion, making it the world’s second-largest economy after the United States. The country’s economy has developed incredibly quickly over the past two decades, led by electronics manufacturing powerhouses like Huawei and Haier as well as tech companies like Alibaba and Tencent. Between its thriving export industry and growing consumer economy, China is a business opportunity of unsurpassed potential, making Chinese language skills a very valuable asset.
Because China is such a vast and growing market for business, Chinese language skills can be an asset to a wide range of careers - especially in the electronics and technology sectors. Being able to communicate in even basic Mandarin Chinese with representatives of the country’s leading firms is a rare ability that can open doors and bridge cultural gaps in ways that can be a game-changer for business negotiations.
If you are fluent in Chinese speech, writing, and grammar, you can potentially pursue a career as an interpreter or translator. Facilitating communications between business, political, and cultural leaders can be an exciting career, travel and impactful work opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, interpreters and translators earned a median annual salary of $51,830 in 2019, and the ongoing globalization of the world economy is expected to drive faster-than-average growth in these jobs.
Yes - or, duì, in Chinese! There are a wide array of language learning opportunities on Coursera, including courses for every level of Mandarin Chinese - the most common dialect of this language by far. You can learn from top-ranked schools in China including Peking University and National Taiwan University, And, because Coursera lets you view and complete course materials on Chinese language on a flexible schedule, you can fit your education in this valuable skill into your existing work or family life.
If you have a genuine interest in Chinese culture and an enthusiasm for learning about it, learning Chinese and about Chinese topics is likely a good fit for you. Other traits that will help you on this educational path include an open mind, intellectual curiosity, and a knack for receiving and processing information.
If you have great communication skills, you can pursue a career in foreign diplomacy or as an interpreter, and with good writing skills, you can embark on a career as a foreign correspondent. If you like the idea of employment in business and industry, you might work as a banker, an importer-exporter, or a corporate business consultant, marketing expert, accountant, or finance specialist. Additional career paths to consider include teaching, travel and tourism, public health, immigration, customs, human rights, or research. After completing a curriculum in Chinese, you should come away with thorough knowledge of Mandarin, the most widely-spoken language in China. In addition, you'll learn about the written Chinese language and Chinese history, culture, and politics. As China's place in the world continues to become more prominent, career opportunities for someone with a background in Chinese studies are plentiful.
You can go to work for the Foreign Service or an international corporation, a foreign law firm, a travel agency, a newspaper or magazine, or a domestic or foreign college or university. More places that hire people with a Chinese studies background include human or civil rights organizations, financial institutions, public health agencies, and hospitals or medical clinics. The great thing about completing a Chinese studies program is the wealth of employment opportunities you'll enjoy.
You can learn another foreign language or study linguistics, art, music, or the culinary arts. Additional topics that intersect with Chinese studies include international relations, global studies, business, alternative medicine, and religions like Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism.