Part 4: Learning the Languages of the New World Powers — China

china-flag.jpgChi­na is the 800 pound goril­la among the new emerg­ing world pow­ers Its econ­o­my, says Gold­man Sachs, may out­size every econ­o­my except the Unit­ed States by 2016, and even sur­pass the US as soon as 2039. There is no point in bela­bor­ing things. Chi­na will be a force to be reck­oned with.

Accord­ing to yesterday’s New York Times, the hottest lan­guage being stud­ied right now by busi­ness trav­el­ers is Man­darin, and quite right­ly so. Man­darin is the offi­cial lan­guage of Chi­na and Tai­wan, and it’s also spo­ken in Sin­ga­pore. (Can­tonese is wide­ly spo­ken in Hong Kong.) As the Times arti­cle notes, speak­ing a lit­tle Man­darin can trans­late into new busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties, and so it could be worth spend­ing some time get­ting con­ver­sant in the lan­guage. You could spend $2,500 for a week-long Man­darin course. How­ev­er, if you’d like to do it on the cheap, we have some sol­id, free resources for you.

To get up and run­ning, you’ll want to check out the well-reviewed pod­cast called Chi­nese Lessons with Serge Mel­nyk (iTunes Feed Web Site). Put togeth­er by an Eng­lish speak­er who stud­ied Man­darin Chi­nese for almost 20 years (and who has lived in Bei­jing and Shang­hai for 12 years), the free pod­cast cur­rent­ly offers 55 lessons that last between 20 and 30 min­utes on aver­age. A sec­ond option, which also gets very high marks, is (iTunes Feed Web Site). Pro­duced by native speak­ers, these dai­ly audio pod­casts, each 10 to 20 min­utes in length, will immerse you in col­lo­qui­al (read: use­ful) Man­darin. Both of these pod­casts are free, and the freely avail­able mate­r­i­al will keep you busy for some time. How­ev­er, each pod­cast also offers addi­tion­al resources for a rea­son­able fee, although you can cer­tain­ly get by with­out them.

Beyond these pod­casts, you may want to check out a cou­ple oth­er free alter­na­tives: Think and Talk Like the Chi­nese (iTunes Web Site) and Chi­nese Learn Online (iTunes Feed Web Site). Also, if you’re look­ing for more sys­tem­at­ic approach­es to learn­ing Man­darin, we’ve includ­ed some options in our new Ama­zon store.

Also, one of our read­ers asked us to through this one into the mix:

Please see the pre­vi­ous install­ments in this series:

Part 1: Brazil­ian Por­tuguese
Part 2: Russ­ian
Part 3: Hin­di

See Open Culture’s pod­cast col­lec­tions: Arts & Cul­tureAudio BooksFor­eign Lan­guage LessonsNews & Infor­ma­tionTech­nol­o­gyUni­ver­si­ty (Gen­er­al)Uni­ver­si­ty (B‑School)

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