January 19th, 2011
04:42 PM ET

Make your child learn Chinese?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Forget the romance languages. If you really want your child to be ready for the future, you might want him to crack open some Chinese language textbooks.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/01/19/art.chinese.jpg caption=""]
As President Obama meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House this week, there are more reasons than ever to believe China holds the key to all of our futures.

For starters, China owns us – or soon will, as they continue to snap up U.S. treasury bonds. China is now the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, just under $900 billion.

The Chinese also have a significant financial stake in many other countries around the world. It was reported this week that China has lent more money to developing countries in the past two years than the World Bank.

Then there's their military expansion – Chinese military spending is up 12% in the last decade.

A Chinese-developed stealth fighter jet recently took its first flight. They've also created a long-range missile that could hit U.S. ships in the pacific. And, they're building their first aircraft carrier to launch missions far off China's coast.

There's more: Beijing has become an integral player in nearly every major international issue, from the standoffs with North Korea and Iran to global warming.

In fact, one top NASA scientist says that China is the world's "best hope" in the fight against global warming. He says that our democracy – including lobbying dollars from the fossil fuel industry – makes it impossible for the U.S. to confront global warming.

Here’s my question to you: If you were the parent of a small child, would you make him/her learn Chinese?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Jen in New York writes:
I am the parent of a 6-year-old who attends 1st grade at a private school in New York. She and her fellow students study Mandarin five days a week from 1st through 6th grades. It is not optional. I'm thinking of taking classes myself, just so I'll know what they're up to when they start chatting with each other in Chinese.

Pete in Georgia writes:
Dream on, Jack. The average American kid can't even speak English properly, and you're asking them to learn Chinese? Yeah, right.

Jeff in South Riding, Virginia writes:
Our 8-year old is already fluent in Chinese. His grandparents and great aunts and uncles on his mother's side live in China and he talks with them regularly on Skype. He also attends Chinese school on the weekends to learn to read and write the language. We hope this will improve his chances of competing in the world when he grows up.

Jay in Pennsylvania writes:
There is no need at all. Most Chinese kids today learn English starting in elementary school. Everywhere you go in China, you can find college graduates who are fluent in English and who have studied overseas in Western countries. Chinese people know that English is still the most widely spoken language in the world. American kids should devote their time and energy to improve their other subjects such as math and physics.

Pat in Michigan writes:
If I were going to raise a child in these times, I would definitely encourage my children to learn Chinese. Our daughter learned German, Spanish and Latin and teaches all three. In the new world economy, communication is key.

J. writes:
When I watched the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics, I believed my then 6-year-old daughter better start learning Mandarin.

Ryan in New Brunswick, New Jersey writes:
I for one welcome having children and adults learn Mandarin or Cantonese. That way Hollywood will stop dubbing martial arts films and we can enjoy them in their native tongue.

Filed under: Children • China • Education • On Jack's radar
soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. Russ in PA

    Make them? No, that sounds like more government aggression, and we already have too much of that. Makes more sense to convince your kids to learn Chinese, as it will be an advantage in the future.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  2. Rob in Brooklyn

    its a tough language. But Korean & Japanese are just as valid a language to learn I guess it depends on what they might do when they grow up.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm |

    Many years ago there used to be a saying that if you were a optimist you should learn Russian and if you were pessimist you should learn Chinese.I think that statement might be true today but for different reasons.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  4. Dave in Arizona

    Absolutely not. It would be their choice. Media sensationalism is out of control now a days.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  5. Kirk (Apple Valley, MN)

    First Spanish and now Chinese? What the heck ever happened to English?

    January 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  6. CDB from Missouri

    No, but I might encourage him/her to learn Chinese as well as several other languages. This a world economy now. Americans who speak Chinese will be better able to negotiate in it.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  7. Rich McKinney, Texas

    I grew up in a military family and my father was stationed in the Philippines. I was made to learn the local dialect and was grateful for it. Later in life I myself was in the military and stationed in Germany where I learned to speak German. That was more out of necessity though. I had to learn how to order a beer and a Big Mac. The bratwurst wasn't bad either. When in Rome Jack act like the Romans.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  8. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    No I would not make my kids learn Chinese unless they really wanted too. I would however suggest that they learn and use more than one foreign language to broaden their horizons. It's too bad we don't require English to be spoken in our own country.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  9. Richard Oak Harbor, Wa

    Now that President Hu is going to save the American economy by providing much needed jobs for Americans we can increase funding for schools to teach American kids Chinese to improve their employment opportunities for the future. Hu's on first?

    January 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  10. Ed from California

    Funny you mentioned this. My Granddaughter who's a freshman in High School this year, is taking Chinese as a foreign language. She likes it. She says it's very hard to speak, but she likes drawing the characters and has always has had a fascination with the Republic of China and it's people, more about the people.

    Of course, I tell her that President Hu Jintao of China is here making sure we are not destroying his property or soiling his carpets. She just gives me that puppy dog look. (Did you check out the question today from the Chinese reporter asking about the Tuscon shooting and the ensuing and continuing rhetoric? fascinating!)

    January 19, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  11. Tom Bulger, Canandaigua

    "Make" was always reserved for life and death matters like street traffic.

    I would invite him/her to learn Mandarin, but my youngest already speaks it. The secret is to instill a love of learning. They'll then go on to teach you everything.

    January 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  12. John Moore - New Britain, PA

    Great idea. Whether you see China as an ally or competitor it can only help your cause to be able to understand them.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  13. Pete from Georgia

    Dream on Jack.
    The average American kid can't even speak English properly, and you're asking them to learn Chinese ??

    Yeah, right.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  14. Lisa in GA

    This is INSANE..... not only because Chinese is difficult to learn.. its time consuming and frankly irrevelant to our native language. Unless it is " true" that China owns us and is just preparing us for the inevietable if we don't get out of debt with them.... just down right scarey at the thought of it.....

    January 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  15. Tony from Southport, NC

    Why Jack? The folks from all over the world who come here don't seem to want to learn English. Are you suggesting that this administration will sell us out to China? Learning any other languages is probably a good idea but the only reason we would have to teach our children to speak Chinese is if we continue on this downward spiral to bankruptcy and irresponsible spending by Democrats. Then we had better ALL learn to speak it.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  16. Joe Ft Walton Bch Fl

    Not because Hu's there.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  17. Mike in Denver

    Have you listened to kids these days? Most have not learned English yet, and you want a second language?

    January 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  18. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    In today's world and how our economy are intertwined with each other, I think being able to speak different languages would be very helpful for one's career. I would encourage my children to learn other languages. But making them, no.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  19. Pat in Michigan

    If I were going to raise a child in these times I would definitely encourage my children to learn Chinese. Our daughter learned German,Spanish and Latin and teaches all three. In the new world economy ,communication is key.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  20. james

    what dialect, there are many millions of Chinese that can't talk to each other now. Go Spanish.

    Jim in Michigan

    January 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  21. Carol

    Jack, This is America. We speak English. Teach them English, then when they are older if they want to learn a foreign language they can do it then. These children need to be learning math, science, and english so they are able to compete here. As far as China goes. Everybody better quit buying that junk from China because it is killing our country and making them a bigger power we may end up having to deal with later on. You know, like them attacking us like Japan did at Pearl Harbor. Wake up people. Be American. Buy American

    January 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  22. John ...... marlton, nj

    Yes, and I did make them learn Chinese (mandarin) and French. Now, I am the parent of young adult children that are and have attended top universities in and out of the USA considered some of the best in the world. I am also pround to point out my children and their freinds from around the world consider themselves global citizens ......... a distinction we should encourage many more to aspire

    January 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  23. Kelsi Jonson

    Absolutely! As well as, Spanish, and at least one or two other languages. The countries whose children are growing up to lead the world's markets are the ones who go after the world's markets in English, Spanish, French, Chinese, and more. If we want to sell our products in other countries, we cannot just sell to those who speak English.

    Ashtabula, Ohio (Just say Cleveland. It's easier.)

    January 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  24. Olga

    So many people in this country are filled with a false sense of pride in trying to make English the 'official' language, that we tend to overlook the children of European countries who speak three and four different language with equal ability.

    Learn English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, and as many as you can so that you can become a citizen of the world...why not?

    Austin, Texas

    January 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  25. Jim


    It's never a bad idea to learn a second language. When I was in high school (45 years ago), French was considered a wise choice. Spanish has been useful for those in states near the southern border. Latin was a good idea if you were going into law or medicine. Japanese was being pushed a few decades ago as a good language for business persons. Now that good-for-business language is Chinese. Sure I'd encourage a youngster to learn it, but not out of fear. It's just another good tool to have for coping with the evolving world.

    Reno, Nevada

    January 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  26. Singh

    As a college student, when I become a parent I would not make my young child learn Mandarin or any other Chinese language. As a student, I see many East Asian Professors sticking to their language, and also see through their projectors that they use their computers in their own native language using Unicode, so that everything is written in their own language. I will have my children learn English, and my own native language (Punjabi), although I myself was born in this country. To each their own. This is the reality, regardless of circumstances. The only people who will teach their children Chinese or other languages are the ones who are falsely convinced that it will help their child's future for a career of some sort.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  27. Judie Fox--Largo, Florida

    Wow that's a tough one. I think maybe Spanish first as it's obvious that language would be far more useful in this country.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  28. Bill S TX


    All Americans would benefit from learning new languages. The U. S. wants to sell to Chinese consumers and make profits. Our ability to do business with and in China will be rewarded if we learn their language. This will help the American people get back to work and prosper.

    However, American businesses and our relations with China are hurt when any of us snub and insult the Chinese. Rep. John Boehner, Republican Speaker of the US House, offended China and China’s President today by refusing to attend the official US State Dinner in China’s honor. Rep. Boehner, R-OH, shows poor judgment when he snubs a major purchaser of our national debt instruments and a most favored trading partner.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  29. Simon-Orlando

    Absolutely. By the time they are adults, China will be the only super power and will control the planet. The US will be an also ran nation with taxes being collected to pay off our debt to China.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  30. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    Yes I would. At present I know two professional young men that work for the Chinese. One is the Head of a US College English Department and works with Chinese corporate executives teaching them English. The second is an attorney. He was employed by a successful private firm which had some Chinese clients. These clients liked this particular attorney and asked him to quit the Firm and work for them. He runs things from his home in the US,his wife doesn't have to work anymore and he goes to China three times a year and spends three weeks each time with the Chinese executives who employ him. I believe this is a predicter of what's to come and speaks volumes.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  31. Jenny from Nanuet, NY

    Yes, to increase their chance for a successful life. It would open a world of opportunities for children to learn ANY second language. The Chinese do it, why shouldn't we?

    January 19, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  32. Cliff Glass - Rego Park, New York


    As obtuse and ethnocentric as Americans can be, we already believe that we're conversant in Chinese. Which one of us doesn't already know how to say Moo Goo Gai Pan ?

    January 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  33. Andrea Holm

    Of course, Chinese is complicated for us, so our young must learn to speak, understand and read it pronto. That's the only way to not be run over by China. We also need to learn about Chinese culture and meet the people. That's the way to peace and understanding – and human rights for all.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  34. Andrea Holm

    Of course, Chinese is complicated for us, so our young must learn to speak, understand and read it pronto. That's the only way to not be run over by China. We also need to learn about Chinese culture and meet the people. That's the way to peace and understanding – and human rights for all.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  35. Buster in Poughkeepsie, NY

    If I were the parent of a small child, I would be a wreck. I see these kids today with their pants down around their knees, X-Boxing, Game-Boying, and Nintendoing like e- zombies, and texting the person right next to them on their Crackberries, LOLing at each other. Do their little voice boxes even work? All this electronic gadgetry may be the shizzle and the giggizzle to them perhaps, but a very pathetic path to our future illiterate society. It you ask me, it's a clever Chinese conspiracy to make our children mindless morons...all these gadgets, after all, are made in China. Heck, why not teach them Mandarin, they don"t speak a comprehensive language as it is.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  36. S.Ralston (Canada)

    If your children in the US don't adapt to the future, the jobs will just come to Canada. In some provinces they have already implemented it.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  37. Judie Wm's -- El Lago TX

    Hi Jack...

    Make them ? How about second languages being taught EARLY on in the schools ! My 7 y.o. granddaughter lives in Switz., where English is taught...in addition to the native language German. She also speaks Italian.....

    The U.S. is no longer, and hasn't been for a long time a country unto itself and the school systems have fallen short of implementing languages into the early years of school. When I was in high school Latin was only offered to the 11th and 12th graders, and I've yet to converse with anyone in Latin...........

    January 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  38. Jay

    There is no need at all. Most Chinese kids today are learning English starting elementary school. Everywhere you go in China you can find college graduates who are fluent in English and who have studied overseas in Western countries. Chinese people know that English is still the most widely spoken language in the world. American kids should devote their time and energy to improve their other subjects such as math and physics, in which they are beginning to lag behind many other countries.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  39. Donna Roper

    We all need to learn Chinese so that in 10 years we will be able to properly address and speak to our Chinese masters.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  40. bud rupert

    Not a bad idea but make them? I don't think so Jack. In all due respect to the great Chinese people and their rapid economic growth -their GNP is 9 trillion vs United States 14 triilion. So, in spite of our present difficulties, I'm betting on the good ole USA over the long haul. With President O'bama's ( second term ) leadership and old fashion Yankee know-how and persistance this will be the come-back generation for the greatest country in the history of the planet.
    Thanks (XIE, XIE)

    January 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  41. Burbank from CA

    I wouldn't force a child to learn anything that wasn't basic RRRs, but I might encourage them by letting them know it's a smart choice.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  42. Jay

    I would encourage them to, but I wouldn't force them to take Chinese if they wanted to learn a different language. I would push them to learn at least one foreign language, regardless of which one it is.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  43. Nicole Dussere

    Don't think I would make my kids learn it, but it would be nice if the school system could consider offering Chinese as one of the language options

    January 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  44. yoli

    My children are already learning Chinese. I think it is the language of the future.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  45. JackSmith

    Learning Chinese sounds like fun.

    1 in 6 people on the planet speaks Chinese.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  46. JOHN phoenix, az

    Yes, and we should require it in the school system.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  47. Edwin Kribbs

    The current dilemma with China bears a striking resemblance to our relationship with Japan in 1941. When food shortages are a world crisis, and when our debt becomes a critical issue, watch the smiles come off the Chinese. And be ready for when they start dictating to us.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  48. John from Alabama

    Jack: It is true small children learn foreign languages much faster between infancy to 5 years of age, but making them learn Chinese for the sake of learning another language is not a good idea. If I was of Chinese descent it would make sense for my children to learn Chinese. We teach English for 13 years in public and private schools in America, and we still have problems with the language. We need more math and science education to be successful in this global economic race.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  49. Jason Cullinane


    While it is a difficult language, there will be an amazing benefit to learning Chinese as a child. When they grow to become an adult and seek employment with US and/or international firms (those that do business in China), they will have an edge as companies prefer to have direct communication rather than have to go through an interpreter. It also will help with opening doors along the way to success (prep school, college, grad school, etc.).

    January 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  50. Jeff

    South Riding, VA

    Our 8-year old is already fluent in Chinese. His grandparents and great aunts and uncles on his Mothers side live in China and he talks with them regularly on Skype. He also attends Chinese school on the weekends to learn to read and write the language. We hope this will improve his chances of competing in the world when he grows up. Many of our friends of mixed ethnic backgrounds also enroll their children in Chinese, Cambodian and other languages on the weekends.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  51. Griff

    "Not forgetting the US... Well according to my little-info, the Chinese did build your railroad, so who knows?"

    WASHINGTON – Builders began work last year on the second fewest number of homes in more than half a century, as the weak economy kept people from buying houses.

    Builders broke ground on a total of 587,600 homes in 2010, just barely better than the 554,000 started in 2009. Those are the two worst years on records dating back to 1959.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  52. Mike in Denver

    I speak English and Spanish fluently, and have studied German and Japanese. It always surprises people when I speak a language other than English, and they ask me where I am from because it is a globally accepted truth that Americans do not speak more than one language.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  53. Bob Wishnie

    didn't know how else to get word to u guys at cnn. they wondered about the menu for tonite's state dinner when the video being shown was a closeup of the menu at a place setting in the red room. I saw it included lobster and didn't have time to read the rest. should b easy to freeze the video and see the menu. just trying to help

    January 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  54. Steve Jacobs

    Which form of Chinese? Mandarin is the most common form, although "Standard" Chinese (Mandarin dialect spoken in Beijing) is becoming accepted too. Others widely spoken include Wu, Cantonese, and Min, among others.

    Assuming that you refer to Mandarin and/or Standard Chinese, the answer is, "yes," we very well should be teaching our children how to speak the language unless major changes are made in the way the U.S.A. does business. For the same reason that educated Europeans routinely learned English over the last hundred years.

    Orlando, Florida

    January 19, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  55. Agustin from Virginia

    Of course I would. Why not... in the 21th century where everything is interconnected and we leave in a global economy the more you know and the more lenguages you speak the better. China will always be a huge economy and for you to be able to speak their lenguage is always a big plus.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  56. Keith

    Back when I was a kid (55 years ago) there was a saying. "the optimists make their kids learn Russian. The pessimist make their kids learn Chinese!

    January 19, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  57. Jordan Knight

    My wife and I taught English in China last year. We found that everything about Chinese superiority to be as fake as the "name brand" products that they sell there. What is more, China is requiring all students to learn English as part of their college entrance tests, so why bother learning Chinese, if they are all learning English?

    January 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  58. Laura

    Having a child learn multiple languages is a good investment for their future, making a child learn chinese for the reasons stated, my answer would be a flat "No". I do not think that it will matter to the Chinese that an American can speak Chinese when they take over our country, and our Government and the criminals like Tim Geitner are giving them an ingraved invitation to do so, so they will, one American will be no different to any other American even if he or she can speak their language. I might add that what the Federal Reserve and the US Government does is not what "the people" want them to do. We no longer have a voice, and they all think that we are too stupid to even have an opinion, let alone pass any laws that benefit the masses. The American People are suffering, and no one seems to notice, they all have blinders on.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  59. Gus

    Like we just had to learn Japanese in the 80's and 90's?

    January 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  60. Lavon in Hemet, CA

    Sure Jack, right after they learn spanish...

    January 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  61. masterblasterUSA

    TEACH CHINESE IN SCHOOLS ALREADY, lord knows its going to wind up surpassing english in usefulness soon anyway

    January 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  62. Ed in Montana

    Not Chinese, but Spanish. Spoken English in America will diminish significantly in the next 10 years.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  63. Thomas

    Jack, as a current college student looking forward i see only one government that doesn't fall to the whims of the capitalists, and that is china. With its brand of mercantil capitalism china is quickly becoming the largest player in every area, from foreign policy, to trade and business, in both governmental and nongovernmental sectors. All these areas are places america used to dominate. Your assessment that they own us is putting it mildly so if we all want to keep speaking english we need to come up with better domestic political solutions and stop letting these bums we have now Kowtow to our financial masters.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  64. Randy Wang

    I am a Chinese-American. I do business in East Asia.
    I strongly feel that instead learning Chinese language, it is more import to have our children understand Chinese culture.
    Even my children going to Chinese lesson every Saturday, I feel they are not ready to conduct business in Chinese language when they are old.
    There are planty English speaking Chinese in China. I would be much useful if one understand Chinese cultrue; their pride, they problem, they pass...etc. This will generate much needed "trust" to conduct any kinds of business in China with Chinese partners.
    Their school children are learning our history....

    January 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  65. magda

    From Denver:I will have my son learn Chinese, it's a fact that China will soon own us and he will have a great advantage by knowing the language. Whoever doesn't agree is very naïve.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  66. Steve, Clifton, VA

    We encouraged our children to learn French, Latin, German and Spanish, so what's the problem with encouraging them to learn Chinese?

    January 19, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  67. John

    The only reason to American children chinese is to also teach them the truth about China's horrible human rights abuses throughout her communist history and to make changes in their system someday..

    January 19, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  68. Kevin

    We are definitely considering it as the "first second language" for our 2 year old.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  69. Hobbit

    I am the parent of a child and he is in a Chinese Immersion program.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  70. Aaron

    Aaron from New Jersey:

    Which dialect?

    January 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  71. anao

    If you were the parent of a small child, would you MAKE him/her learn Chinese? Mr. Cafferty we can't MAKE our children read, write and spell ENGLISH properly , nor study science and math. What makes you think we can MAKE them learn Chinese?

    I have been studying Chinese for the past 2 years ONLY because I want to know WHAT THE HELL they are saying when their expanded military drop zillions soldiers on our shores after their spanking new aircraft carrier full of stealth fighter jets rain tons of long-range missiles on our heads – I am dead serious!

    January 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  72. Nick San Diego

    Yes,Yes,Yes. They are a major power with a huge population coming on strong. . It is not in our best interest to bury our heads in the sand and yell Communism.
    We can't be # 1 forever

    January 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  73. Swift

    Children, yes. Heck, I'm even trying to learn mandarin.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  74. Don Desaulniers (Belleville, Ontario)

    The trouble is that if you don't use it, you lose it.
    Therefore, learning Chinese, although laudable, will not provide a long-term skill for 99% of those students who study it.
    Probably a better goal is to teach your child ethics. That is something that lasts forever, unless your child decides to go into law or politics.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  75. Nathan

    No, I'd make them learn Math and Science. That way the Chinese and the rest of the world will give a damn what they have to say when they grow up. Otherwise just teach them the Mandarin for "You want fries with that?"

    January 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  76. Sonny

    How do you call a person who can speak three languages? Trilingual
    How do you call a person who can speak two languages? Bilingual
    How do you call a person who can speak one language? American

    Ability to speak more than one language will definitely help. Don't forget companies will pay you to travel to other countries. Don't just limit to Chinese. How about Japanese, French, German, etc.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  77. cris escano

    Hi Jack, For my child to learn more language(s) is good! It expand's the child's knowledge as well as opportunities. Remember the good old days, when every developing countries are dying to learn how to speak English language, well, iam one of those and I have to say I benefited a lot from this additional skills (speaking fluent english other than my native tongue), so I would encourage my child if the child is interested at all. Good luck to u Jack!

    January 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  78. Brian Ahir

    My 2 month old daughter will learn 4 different languages from mom and dad. As for Chinese, it will be helpful to learn the language of more than 1.3 billion people of the world. I hope we can redefine American Exceptional-ism by educating our children for the 21st century.

    Brian Ahir
    Vacaville, California

    January 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  79. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio


    Why not, might be better than the marketinglanguage of badda boom, badda bing !

    January 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  80. neal christmas

    Yes our children must learn Chinese along with Spanish. There is no need to ever learn English because we've all been sold to the lowest bidder:China. We have a phony democratic system in which our government has destroyed the power of America, thus weakening us to allow a communist government to lead the world in the 21st. Century.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  81. Lindy Bartell

    We are having our (Caucasian) boys learn Chinese! Thanks to a public school program here in Portland, OR a whole slew of kids are being immersed in Chinese from Kindergarten thru 12th grade. It's a brave new GLOBAL world and we want out kids prepared as much as possible.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  82. Bubba

    Spanish would be more immediately useful, but thanks for playing.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  83. Joe in Minnesota

    I am a parent of two small children and I would like them to learn Chinese. It's naive to think they may never need it. If they never have to use it, that's fine. However, if they do need it, and had the opportunity to learn it, that may give them an advantage in the future. In my opinion, that is the best gift a parent can offer.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  84. ArtInChicago

    I wouldn't make him Jack, but I think it's a good idea to learn any language other than English. When Japan's economy was quite strong in the late 80's to early 90's, it might have been a good "idea" to learn Japanese. I would tell my kid to learn Chinese not because I should fear China and their growth, but because that is a huge market that could make them rich.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  85. Madmax

    Hey Jack! Did that, done that. My son attends St. Johns H.S., in Shrewsbury, MA., and wants to be ahead of the competition. He still thinks we ought to reindustrialize our country. Why don't we talk about that , and keep jobs from going overseas. I know....special ingerest.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  86. Canuckmom

    Yes, absolutely I will. I live in Vancouver, B.C. where schools have ESL numbers as high as 80% and up in some of the suburbs. The immigrants are mostly Hong Kong or Mainland Chinese, with Cantonese rapidly taking a second seat to Mandarin. French, although a pretty language, is fairly useless as a second language in Canada outside of Quebec and Ontario, and outside of getting a federal job with the Canadian government (and even then...) There has been a strong push for Mandarin immersion schools for non-Mandarin speakers, and I'll be first in line. Mandarin is the upcoming language of commerce and trade, and in my city, of first-time summer jobs for teenagers. We're already enrolling to start Mandarin school in September.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  87. Alan Rudt

    Manadarin language classess are become common in NYC public schools.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  88. Peter

    Actually, you might want to start with Spanish!

    January 19, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  89. Sandra Williams

    Most American parents don't "make" their kids learn anything, including English. That might be why we are all going to need to know Chinese in the future...perhaps, the near future.

    Sandy in Arkansas

    January 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  90. Wade

    If you were the parent of a small child, would you make him/her learn Chinese?

    My grandchildren are learning both Chinese and Spanish.

    No moss growing under these little stones of ours!

    Sacramento CA

    January 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  91. Steve

    I'd make sure they, like, really learn English first dude.


    January 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  92. Mark

    Actually Jack, as a teacher I can tell you that many foreign governments are hiring American, Canadian and Australian teachers to teach ENGLISH in their countries, and that includes China.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  93. jozsef

    well done America. those people from Wall street sold USA for money, because they thought that in this way, reducing the cost, they are going to make even more money. We should send them to a Chinese prison

    January 19, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  94. Helmut

    No I wouldn't, my mother didn't force me to learn German when I was growing up.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  95. zack khan

    Definately yes I am already debating between chinese or arabic for my seven year old son and daughter who is two for their future

    January 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  96. John

    Nope, not necessary. The Chinese know enough English to control our little corner of the world. Should we default on our debt obligations to China it'll simply be a race to see which country hits rock bottom first. China has a sizable investment in our country and will do what it takes to make sure our economy doesn't collapse. Those government bonds, after all, are unsecured. And one thing we still manufacture here are weapons.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  97. Ryan

    I for one welcome having children and adults learn Mandarin or Cantonese. That way Hollywood will stop dubbing martial arts films and we can enjoy them in their native tongue.

    – Ryan, New Brunswick NJ

    January 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  98. Kenneth Krieger

    Learn Chineese? Hu-ey. Ken Krieger cape Coral, Florida

    January 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  99. Vladimir Mavar

    I would want my child to learn any foreign language that would help him or her advance in the global job markets of the future, especially Chinese. The whole phenomenon of globalization requires it and, even though I am not really a parent for a string of reasons, I am progressive enough to realize the importance of being bilingual in the context of getting ahead of the game and staying ahead of the curve. China and the U.S. have a long prosperous future as allies and friends.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  100. John Seay

    I am a parent of a 7 year old, and I will not make my child learn Chinese, even if China becomes a dominant player on the world stage. Just because the U.S. might fall to #2 doesn't mean that English becomes irrelevant as an international language.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  101. Angie

    We are a middle-class, African-American family. My daughter is in her third year of studying Chinese (Mandarin) at Washington University in St. Louis. I didn't force her to learn the language (I did make her study Spanish), but always encouraged her to have an open-mind and be non-judgmental. I allowed her to forge her own path. She traveled to Shanghai and Beijing this past summer and was there for two months studying Mandarin and Chinese culture. How she fell upon Chinese is still a mystery to me. However, I believe it will be a tremendous asset to her in her career pursuits.

    January 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  102. cliff in NM

    As the parent of two Korean adoptees, I can't even get them to take Spanish as an elective! What makes you think they're gonna take Chinese? Heck if their friends aren't doing it...it isn't cool!!!

    January 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  103. Tayo A

    Sure Jack, unless you want your child to miss the 21st century fast train to prosperity!!

    January 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  104. Andrew- Regina, SK

    I imagine that many kids would want to learn chinese, but I wouldn't force it down upon them. Although this is America; who's biggest paranoia is socialism and communism, so I highly doubt that any American parent would want they're children to learn chinese.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  105. Justin

    Seriously? We don't even know they speak Mandarin or Cantonese, we call it Chinese? Isn't this a joke somewhere, about how no one speaks Chinese because there is no such language?

    January 19, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  106. Ralph Spyer

    In America we do not have 20 million illegal Chinese living and working here: what we have here is 20 million Mexican and they do not speak Chinese

    January 19, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  107. Hazel Amoss

    Absolutely not. If we want to remain a strong super power, we first need to make sure that our younger generation excels in math, science and of course US language. Then maybe after that they can think about learning Chinese, Jack, you've been watching too much Glenn Beck.

    Hazel – Springfield, MO

    January 19, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  108. Luci

    Good idea. If I had schoolage children i would want them to learn as many languages as possible. You can't ever learn too much. The brain is a great thing, don't limit what it can do.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  109. Wade in Las Vegas, Nevada

    My wife speaks fluent spanish, korean and english. Her mom keeps telling us my son better learn chinese too. So my kid will at least learn 3 languages. My brother and his wife speak english, spanish, japanese and arabic. My wife's sister and husband speak english, korean and russian. These kids of ours are going to speak a lot of languages. We have a lot of friends whose kids are, or will be, speaking more than two languages.
    Note that all of us use english as a primary language, it wasn't a competitive thing. For the kids however, it might be expected as a matter of business survival.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  110. Ron San Antonio

    Jack, at this point I would be happy with Math, Science, Reading and English! You know, an education that is equal to other countries!

    January 19, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  111. Larry Bruce

    I would let my child learn chinese, not just because china is seemingly becoming closer to number one in the world as time goes by but to help them become more worldly. Besides, if this were to happen and China leap frogs us as a world power then to be able to get a better job or help be more aware of current events in a rising super power, it may be a good idea to do so.

    Larry Bruce
    Baltimore MD

    January 19, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  112. cassieabb

    No. Don't bother. Let the Chinese learn English – it's a much more efficient language. And strongly suggest that your child learn Spanish – a closely related language – and the language of almost everybody in our hemisphere. These are our neighbors. Best to build bonds with them. By the way, China is already eagerly courting Brazil. World peace and understanding is not coming via China. China doesn't even treat it's own citizens well.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  113. Kevin

    I'm very supportive of having anyone learning another language, but I have one issue with Chinese. If kids are going to learn the Chinese written language, they should learn Traditional Chinese rather than Simplified Chinese since it has greater cultural and aesthetic value. Also, I think mainland China still uses Traditional Chinese internationally, although definitely not domestically.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  114. Gigi Oregon

    It would be a smart thing to do. I wish my grandchildren would get away from the silly children's TV and learn any language of their choice and its culture. It might help to bring about world peace.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  115. HURRICANEPAUL from Hawaii

    Jack, our kids won't be needing to learn ALL of the words in the Chinese language, just the ones they will NEED to know...like "How would you like your steak cooked, master?"

    January 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  116. Harry

    Dear Jack,

    I wouldn't make force my daughter to learn mandarin, however, anyone in business can attest that knowing mandarin is REALLY useful. Every American should know three languages: English, Spanish, and Mandarin IMHO. America is a mixing pot and it is always beneficial to learn another culture in my honest opinion. Look at Europe for instance, most people known at least 2 languages. America in comparison is linguistically challenged.


    Harry from California

    January 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  117. Grace

    My 6 year old is learning it...Mandarin.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  118. honest John in Vermont

    With the Chinese owning America and the Mexicans overwhelming America–I'd make the kids learn Mexican and Chinese–soon English will be an ancient language.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  119. Grace - AK

    My 6 year old daughter is learning it...Mandarin

    January 19, 2011 at 5:14 pm |

    Not only has learning some Mandarin Chinese and Spanish helped me get the best career options and the best salaries, it has made me a better manager, a culturally aware professional, and a better world citizen. EVERY US child should be learning a foreign language starting in kindergarten if the US is to remain the #1 country in the world. Otherwise, our seat at the top will become the servant at the bottom.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  121. Donna Wisconsin

    Our country needs to emphasize education of our kids PERIOD! We are frightfully behind other nations. Other countries mandate 2nd and third languages for their kids so they can be better prepare for this global economy. So Yes they should learn Chinese. Chinese already learn English in kindergarten.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  122. Linda in Arizona

    Why? It will be our first language in a few years, and they won't have a choice. I think I'd be learning it myself if I planned on living much longer, which I don't.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  123. Randy

    Why? They have about 800 million people in line waiting for the next job opening. Paul/ Kucinich 2012!

    January 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  124. Jason Beary

    No, but I would try to make sure he learned Spanish. Chinese, not so much.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  125. Jon Austin, TX

    I wouldn't be against it, but the Chinese language is an exceedingly difficult language to learn. Maybe we should consider having a Chinese class mandatory in public schools.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  126. Paul in Washington, D.C.

    I would want my children to learn Chinese to better understand our enemy.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  127. Joey from Columbus, Ohio

    No. My children and I most likely will never go to China. Even if I had them learn Chinese, it would be a waste of time. More Chinese are joining the middle class, and they will not always be welcome to Americans taking their jobs.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  128. Phil

    I'd rather kids learn Russian or German.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  129. jgabsaz

    When I watched the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics I believed my then 6-year old daughter better start learning Mandarin.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  130. Rudy Padgett

    Yes! When China forecloses on our enormous debts to them, China will own us!

    January 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  131. Brenda Shaddox

    Problem is, we're so arrogant, we expect the rest of the world to speak English. The Chinese just may soon give us all an attitude adjustment.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  132. Ron

    You have to push the students hard to make them really learn a foreign language. The ideology of this country is 'freedom', so learning a foreign language is impossible for most students.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  133. Alex

    Of course! I think it is a disgrace that our country puts virtually zero emphasis on learning a 2nd language. If Europeans can learn 2, 3, or even 4 languages on average then why can't we? In preschool and kindergarten I was taught French and apparently was speaking it very well, but because it was never continued throughout the rest of my education, and because learning it while you are a child is absolutely key, I now have no foreign language skills. It is a big disadvantage in the new global marketplace.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  134. Todd Simmonds

    Perhaps when China makes it law, after all they'll likely be running things soon enough given the rate at which we're spending their money.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  135. Melissa Barth

    My 6 year old grandson is being taught Chinese at his public school. The class is funded by the Chinese government. I think that its great that he is learning a foreign language but I don't understand why its being funded by the Chinese government.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  136. Kevin

    More than 300 million people in China speak English, so there is no excuse on our part. I wouldn't force my child to, but I would recommend it because, with the way things are going right now, China will own our economy, and we won't be able to do anything about it. Learning another language would also be a plus for employers and universities.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  137. Luis in El Paso

    Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. If you understand the language you understand the people better. Understanding is the key to both as war and peace.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  138. Singh

    Folks, English is the language of today and of the future. So in the 80's it was Japanese, today it's Chinese and 10 years from now – Indian. It will be better to learn more Math and Science, that is where the real competition is, today with the Chinese and next with the Indians!

    January 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  139. David

    I wouldn't encourage my kids to learn Chinese, since most Chinese that my kids will encounter in their adulthood are currently learning English. China is expected to be the world's largest English speaking population by 2020. I guess that's part of 'the plan'.

    David S.
    Montreal, Canada

    January 19, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  140. Joe

    I don't see the reason. It's not like any time soon china will invade us. We'll probably be wiped out bu North Korea by the time the chinese actually invade the states.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  141. JOHN

    As near as I can tell, a great number of Americans can neither speak nor read English (or any other language for that matter). And, it is becoming obvious that Congress has no ability to communicate in English as well.
    I think I would start with making my children learn English.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  142. Jesse

    The Chinese are learning English, we would be foolish not to develop the same bilingual advantage. Also, as the bulk of the internet becomes written in Chinese, the inability to access a large part of the world's information is a huge deficit.
    I agree that American government and big business are too risk averse to compete with China. You better believe my kids will study Chinese in school!

    January 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  143. David, British Columbia

    On the west coast this is an old question. My wife and I asked it of each other twenty years ago when our kids were small. The percentage of the population in British Columbia that is of Chinese heritage grows by leaps and bounds every year, and being on the Pacific rim, our trade with Asian countries is second only to the U.S. We did not insist that our children learn Chinese and have no regrets, but this may change for our grandchildren. Soon, people of Asian heritage will outnumber all others combined here, and I suppose at that point–like China, in the world–the power of the purse, and of language, will shift.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  144. Dr Rod Stanley

    I leaned French and German in school in England when i was a kid. I have been to china on business 5 times now, and love it.
    I have advised my daughter to have our grandson, aged 8, to start leaning Chinese as soon as possible.
    In Houston, I believe that Chinese should now take preference over Spansh

    January 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  145. Stephen from Florida

    I wouldn't force them to learn Chinese. Its a really good idea to learn Mandarin Chinese though. I studied Mandarin Chinese for 2-3 years, and I still remember a considerable amount, in particular the characters. But I speak 4 languages. China is going to be the world's most powerful country in the coming years.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  146. Westcoastmom

    My daughter has been taking Mandarin lessons for the last 4 years now. My husband is from Hong Kong and only speaks Cantonese, but we felt that learning Mandarin was very important for her future. In fact I think it's important to learn any new language, I myself speak and understand 4 languages.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  147. Mike Allen

    Absolutely not, that would be forcing the language of a communist country on my child, instead we should focus on teaching our children survival skills and instill Americanism in them once again. United we stand, divided we fall. To accomplish this task we should pass laws that requires schools to teach "Pride in America".

    January 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  148. Sean

    I read an interesting article in the Economist (the UK magazine), postulating the future of international communication lies more with technology than traditional language. I would live to learn Mandarin, but I feel that English will remain the lingua franca for at least the rest of the century. English's status lies more with the influence of the British Empire than that the U.S. We often forget that Mandarin has over 800 million speakers, but there are many languages in China: Mandarin, Cantonese, etc..., which are similar written, but not spoken.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  149. John Wong

    It is good for American to learn Chinese just as important as it is for Chinese children to learn English and about the American Culture.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  150. Isabella Miram

    Yes, if I had young children .. I would request that they would learn Chinese ..
    I am a senior and speak three languages fluently ... now I am adding Mandarin .. you are never too old to learn.
    Americans have been lacking behind other countries to be bi-or tri-lingual ... many do not even speak English properly.
    Time has come to change this.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  151. Nathaniel

    I am the father of a 3 year old girl. I would not make my daughter learn Chinese but I would encourage it if she is interested. Weather or not we American's like the fact of China's rising.. it is fact and it is better to prepare our children than turn our noses up and ignore the truth. So in short, I would not be against it.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  152. Ian - MI

    It is my opinion that to compete in today's world economy it is almost essential that we teach our kids starting in kindergarten to be bilingual if not multi-lingual. I would completely encourage my child to learn Chinese.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  153. Gary H. Boyd

    Being realistic Jack. America has 310 million as a legitimate population while China has 1.4 billion (legitimate or otherwise) so learning Chinese wouldn't be a bad first step for our next generations. However, there are so many variations of the Chinese language the question must be - which dialect is worthy of our interest?

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona where the temperatures a chilly 78 today.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  154. Randy

    dont think american kids could learn chinese ,hell they have a hard enough time learning english

    January 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  155. Scott Stodden

    If You Are Parents Of Small Children I Always Say The More Children Can Learn The Better But We Shouldn't Be Saying The Reason Small Children Should Learn The Chinese Language Is Because China Will Soon Takeover, I Just Can't Believe That That Would Happen. Its Always Good For Kids To Learn Different Languages Cuz It Allows Kids To Learn Not Only Forgein Languages But Also Other People's And Countries Cultures.

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    January 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  156. Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    Jack, don't worry, chinese language will become mandatory, within the next 30 years, guaranteed! When China takes over the bankrupt U.S. economy, anyone who wishes to do business will have to speak chinese if they want to succeed. There are still people in this country who want to succeed on their own merits, although they are rapidly becoming the minority, and they will compete no matter who runs the government.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  157. Camille

    Absolutely! I introduced my 9year old son to Spanish as well as Mandarin a few years ago. I'm African American and just about everyone thought I was crazy for even thinking about having my son learn Mandarin. I felt as a global citizen, this would be one of the important languages, and one that would be able to better position him economically in the future.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  158. Randy Polhill


    I traveled to China three time a year for 10 years in the 90"s. Working as a Director of Purchasing for a Fortune 500 company. At that time I had 4 children in high school required to take Spanish or German in order to graduate. I attended several School Board meetings trying to convince then that French and German were outdated. The future in China. It is no longer the future. Soon it will be Indian .

    January 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  159. Michelle

    While Asia represents a large share of future global growth, I would just as soon my children learn a staple romance language such as Spanish which could easily translate into the learning of other romance languages (Brazilian Portuguese, maybe). Learning Chinese may well prove to be a valuable asset in the future, but I would never force my children to learn Chinese and I still expect the universal language to remain English.

    North Vernon, IN

    January 19, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  160. Harold, Phoenix,AZ.

    I would not force my kids to learn Chinese,however, to know multiple languages is an advantage. The pursuit of knowledge is never wrong.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  161. alynn marck

    The way the question is phrased (make them) may be a deterrnet to having an opportunity presented to our children to broaden their communication skills. If there is a real breakthrough with education in America may it be in the way we encourage and teach foreign languages and then our children can compete globally

    January 19, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  162. Walter Levine

    It will not be necessary for Americans to learn Chinese. Beijing will command us in English when the time comes.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  163. Thomas Forcier

    I think it'd be great if my future children wanted to learn Chinese, although because I speak both Spanish and English I'd like them to speak Spanish first, especially because it'd be useful on a daily basis in this country with 16% or so of America's population being Spanish-speaking. Although Chinese dialects would be very useful, although you have to have a desire and true interest in a culture to be able to learn the language well, because without culture what good is knowing the language? And if you're not interested in Chinese culture, food, music, customs, etc. You probably won't learn the language.

    Tom S,
    Spokane, WA

    January 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  164. Lynn McKernan

    Hi Jack,
    I have a two year old and a 4 year old that attend a Montessori school in a Chinese American Cultural center. I am an Irish American and my husband is Italian. My four year old can count to 100 in Chinese and is learning it quickly along with Spanish, and at that age its easy and impressive to do so. I think its great and important, but its certainly not mandatory. Looking into the future for them I would deem it essential, as I deal with China on a business level every day. There are many many people who deal with China in one way or another as an important part of the consumer products industry in this country and this is here to stay, for quite a while whether they like it or not.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  165. James

    I don't believe Chinese will be useful for most of the American population, as most of the business we'll do with the Chinese are in regard to Chinese executives, mostly government officials. Obviously, most of our kids won't deal with these Chinese executives, so most children don't need to be forced to learn this language.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  166. Leena in California

    Absolutely. I grew up in India and I am fluent with 4 languages. In this global economy, more languages the kids know the better.
    Millions of Indian kids are learning on an average of 2 to 3 languages, I do not believe it's very difficult. Americans are under estimating how quick a child brain can grasp information. We would rather let our kids play video games than learn something which will make their future. Very sad outlook.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  167. Dave

    China is more likely to fracture over its human rights problems than it is to take over the world with its short term burst of growth. They are simply experiencing the same economic boom that the US experienced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as the Industrial Revolution took hold. I would encourage my child to learn as many languages as possible, Chinese included, but simply for their own betterment, not based on some misguided belief that Chinese language and culture will subsume all others on Earth.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  168. Julian

    Knowing a foreign language is an invaluable skill that opens up the world in more ways than one could calculate. Given that I'm learning Mandarin myself I'd absolutely encourage my child to learn it also. It can only make them a better and more well rounded individual.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  169. Juan Carlos de Burbon

    Knowing Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and English gives you a significant global advantage–the ability to communicate with nearly half of the world's population.

    I strongly support developing foreign language skills in US schools. It should be mandated like math, science and English.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  170. Mary Lancelot

    Our daughter happily trots off to her Mandarin Chinese Immersion Program at Barnard Elementary every day for 1st grade in San Diego. Second language acquisition is an invaluable tool for anyone no matter what the language.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  171. David Thomas

    I would love to see all children learn Chinese, but only after they pass the New York English Regents exam I had to take in 1947.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  172. Kwame

    Hey Jack! Love your show and your wry sense of humor. You bet your "tuche" our kids will benefit from being fluent in Chinese.

    Simple scenario for our kids: If you're smart to become a Physician = Spanish is beneficial. MBA from Ivy League School = Fluency in Chinese (to sustain employment on Wall St) or Head Teller at a New York city/Big City Bank. Which part of the "Hand Writing On the Wall" do today's new parents not understand?


    Burtonsville, MD.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  173. Cheryl

    Learning a foreign language is much easier for the student in the early years of school and Chinese would be a good one to learn for the impact China is currently on the world. . and probably will be for a long time. I have a niece and nephew doing very well and enjoying a Chinese immersion program right now in MN. Even though they may not ever visit China, their horizons have already been widened as they enrich their lives by learning about another culture and way of life outside the US. And. . who knows, one of them might be a translator at a US press conference with a Chinese visitor.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  174. Crystal

    I made Chinese part of everyday life for my daughter who is 4 1/2. She speaks Mandrin with Beijing accent to me and turns around and speak perfect English with my husband, who speaks only English. My husband could not help but pick up some Chinese also.

    Speaking Chinese helps me and my daughter to have a special connection. And I am sure my daughter's Chinese will help her greatly in the future. As for my husband, humm... I don't think anything will. Ha ha.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  175. dong dong

    I am a Chinese. I don't think American children should or will learn Chinese. Chinese TV, movie, newspaper, radios and books always said and showed good parts of American. Kids were encouraged to learn English. All American Presidents like Clinton, Obama are great. Their success stories were repeatedly told. So that the results are that the young Chinese people come to USA. All American TV, movie, newspaper, radio and books did the opposite: Chinese was, is and will be absolutely a huge thread to the US, to western democracy and human civilization. So that the results are that no young Americans want to learn from Chinese. You will not be great anymore if you could not learn something from others.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  176. nick

    Always good to speak more than one language , especially in this global economy.In Europe , they speak 2 miminum foreign languages.When I was growing up, French, English and Spanish were in demand.Now is Chinese.I can only help, for sure.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  177. Mick McCormick WI

    One of my grandsons, who lives in Waukesha, WI and attends at STEM( science, technology, engineering, math) school is taking Mandarin. It seems very logical to me to include Mandarin in any curriculum based on the STEM focus.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  178. Maggie

    What the heck happened to English?? Well, we Americans don't speak it very well for starters.. and the rest of the World apparently learns it mandatorily in some places...and are better at it than we are...

    So, yeah , what the heck happened to English... and yes, i would have my child choose...between Chinese and Spanish to learn.. learning another language would be mandatory....

    January 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  179. Ann King

    Learning Chinese for the future is a no-brainer. In fact we saw the rise of China coming a long time ago and should have been more prepared. It is the course of history that nations will rise and nations will fall, but unfortunately it always seem to take a major war for the nation currently at the top at the time to accept that its time is over. Since we do not control these things, let's make the coming changes as painful as possible.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  180. johan van achterberg

    If the president of China does not know that they have a Stealth bomber before we know why should we learn Chinese.
    farmer Johan

    January 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  181. spike in conshohocken pa

    I'm still working on the Japanese lessons I started in the 1980s after I was told in no uncertain terms that Japan was going to own the United States.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  182. Steve McCornack

    Hundreds of millions of people all over the world already speak English. It is a fallacy to think that teaching our children Chinese or any other language, without immersion or residency, will ever give them an "advantage" over native speakers. There are many reasons to teach language and culture to American students, but the notion that this will be anything more than a minor boost to business prospects is just ridiculous.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  183. Norm Gionet Canada

    I think they should learn geography so as to know where China is situated. Firstly, they should learn spanish because of the proximity of the country close to them and to communicate with the Hispanic community within their country.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  184. Mike P. from L.A.

    Jack, that is why I have my twins watch Ni Hao Kai-Lan!
    Gotta give them an edge.
    -Mike from L.A.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  185. Sam from Florida

    The rest of the world speaks 2, 3, 4 or more languages! Yes, Chinese, Spanish, French, German even – why not – couldn't hurt socially or politically. BTW, terrorists have it all wrong; take a tip from China, buy our debt, that is the way to control us!

    January 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  186. Kyaw Moe

    Hello Jeff,

    Why Not. I am preparing to send my son, 5-year old to Chinese Class as a readiness and well-equiped with necessary tool to compete in global market for his success and future.

    I was told to learn English to have a better life and better future with well-paid job even Burma was under invaded by British. Not this is Chinese term, things are changed and switched to China. The future is attached with China.
    Best regards, Moe ( Vancouver-Canada)

    January 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  187. Gale

    Actually, my 15-year old has been taking Chinese for the past 4 years. He switched from Spanish in the 7th grade. The switch was his idea, not mine.

    And incidentally, my older child lived abroad for 4 months in Argentina and will be in Colombia for two weeks this spring, living with a Colombian family. He is fluent in Spanish and is learning Portuguese, planning to work in Brazil for at least a year.

    Younger Americans are much more savvy and comfortable with other cultures and globalization. The rest of us need to get over our phobia about learning other languages and cultures.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  188. steve - virginia beach

    That's not necessary, Jack. Maybe you didn't get the memo but we started dissolving our current government during the last election and are replacing it with our lawful government, as defined by our Founding Fathers. In the meanwhile, it's more useful for the children to learn our Founder's extensive explaination of the Constitution then our history so they'll know how our dilema happened in hopes that they'll become wiser and prevent it next time.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  189. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio


    I could be wrong but does not the University of Phoenix offer a major in Spanish and a minor in Chinese?

    January 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  190. Oldschool

    Chinese it's my child's choice, since the reason for all of this is China is taking over thiscountry I fill it would better to take back our country.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  191. James

    I think some people forget how large our military is compared even to all the military powers in the world..... I'm not talking soldiers..... I'm talking hardware. Who has the biggest air force in the world? The united states military. Who has the second biggest air force in the world? The united states navy.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  192. steve in minnesota

    The best time to learn a language is when kids are very young. Both our kids went through Spanish immersion from K-6. They not only learned good Spanish, they learned good English. Anyone who has observed an immersion school knows that the kids can learn English while they are learning another language. It also opened their eyes and minds to other cultures. Learning Chinese or another language would open many doors for kids.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  193. gramintx

    My grandson has a degree in Communications, but also has a minor in Chinese. I asked him "Why in the world did you need three years of that language?". He replied "Grandma, it is the most spoken language in the world.". He is now working on his Graduate degree and I am finally getting it now for his future career choices. Chinese should be offered to children in school like Spanish, German, and French are. "No" I would not force a child to take it, but I would put some definate good reasoning suggestions to push them in that direction...

    January 19, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  194. Cynthia C Tidwell

    In 1981, when my sons started high school, one chose Chinese and the other chose Russian as their foreign languages. The son who picked Chinese continued it through college and has a wonderful international career. He spent nearly 14 years in China, and speaks excellent Mandarin and several dialects.

    Interestingly, his first teacher discussed with us his rapid learning curve and wondered if we'd lived in Asia at any time. Not so. But, all of our children studied Suzuki violin and/or cello...which seems to create the ability to mimic language sounds, especially tonal languages. Parents and communities should be ensuring all children have music education from kindergarten on.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  195. Tyler from Colorado

    Dear Jack,

    While I may seem naive, I don't fear for that the jobs of my children will be stolen by the Chinese. Most of the Chinese population gets the bare minimun education that will enable them to work in their factory. These sparingly educated workers cannot compete with a motivated, college-educated young worker, as the college-educated kid will be able to do things that these Chinese workers cannot do because of how little their education is.


    January 19, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  196. NP, San Francisco, CA

    My son is currently enrolled in a school that teaches Mandarin and Spanish. He chose to learn Mandarin which is the language my husband and I were both hoping he would choose. His school strongly believes both languarges will help to contrast and assess cultural differences, in order to improve their global literacy. In this global community Mandarin will be a valuable tool for anyone who knows the language.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  197. Keitjas

    I think you all might be reading too much into the use of the word 'make.' Maybe a more appropriate question would be, will you encourage your kids to study Chinese? I say yes, you cannot deny the numbers and projected growth.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  198. nick

    Growing up in Europe, French , English , Spanish and German were in demand.Kids in some European countries speak a minimum of 2 foreign languages.That is surely an advantage in this global economy.Now is Chinese,and it should come as no surprise.New Empire rising over another one that's in decline.Same thing happened to the Roman Empire, Otoman Empire, British Empire.Learn as many languages as you can, it will really make you succed easier .

    January 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  199. Todd


    Understanding Chinese might help in diplomacy or the upper echelons of the corporate world, but let's focus here. Almost half of New Mexico, over a third of Texas and Arizona and over a quarter of California speak Spanish. Get your 3 year old a Dora the explorer DVD.

    – Todd

    January 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  200. Walt

    I wouldn't make them. But I would encourage them to learn mandarin and show them how it could be very helpful to them in fulfilling their hopes and dreams for life.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  201. David Sisters, OR

    I learned German in HS. Spent two years in the Air Force in Germany, I now work with a German biologist for fun, I'm 60. Another language is immeasurably helpfull.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  202. Dodie


    English is China's second language. Chinese is becoming the number one language for Europeans to learn in school. Chinese will be a major world language.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  203. Steve

    I have been telling people for yrs. that Mandarin should be our childrens 2nd language. My child is 8 and stared learning Mandarin 1yr. ago and has made good progress. People in my neck of the woods beleive Spanish should be the 2nd language of choice. Really......think of what jobs spanish will allow you to persue and what jobs mandarin will allow you to persue. Well to each its own....yes we have that freedom.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  204. Craig

    Indeed we my wife and I have chosen a public mandarin chinese magnet elementary school for our children. 80% spoken mandarin w/20% spoken english during school. They already speak Japanese and english and some spanish. Kids are 5 and 3 years old
    Welcome to the future!

    La Jolla, Ca

    January 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  205. James B

    I had to learn Spanish in public school 6th grade. It wasn’t the end of the world. I use it now from time to time. So why not Chinese at least it will help at the restaurants.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  206. G Chandler

    Absolutely! I support the idea of Mandarin being taught to the children . It's about time we stop acting like we are only people in the universeand English is the only language. We have French speaking neighbors to the north and Spanish speaking neighbors south of the border. I agree with "Harry from California" Every American should speak English, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese.


    January 19, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  207. Michael

    Well, as I understand it English is the business language of the World. And it's the default language taught as a second language in most of europe so that an Italien and a Frenchmen, who don't speak the others language, can communicate through English. So if I had to bet, I'd say this is a lot of hype. If you wanna learn French or Spanish or Mandarin go right ahead it probably wouldn't make much of a differance. I mean when is the last time you traveled to a foreign country and not been able to communicate in English?!

    January 19, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  208. Stewart in Portland

    Ni hao, Jack. We are the parents of a small child, she is in Chinese immersion at Kindercare by her choice. She loves it, is having fun, and learning a useful skill for the future. Side note, my wife and I went to the Bejing Olympics – government aside, I found the Chinese people to be very warm and friendly. I never was interested in going before, but I look forward to go
    ing back.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  209. James B,

    I had to learn Spanish in public school 6th grade. It wasn’t the end of the world. I use it now from time to time. So why not Chinese at least it will help at the restaurants.
    New York

    January 19, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  210. Jeff In Minnesota

    Children learning Chinese wouldn't hurt (my sons speak Japanese and some Mandarin Chinese), Americans would do better to learn Spanish so that they can communicate with the large number of Hispanics in the country. As I travel through Europe, I always feel less than adequate because I only speak a little French, Spanish and Italian and Europeans are speaking three to five languages fluently. That's not to say that it's entirely our fault as a lot of Americans have very few reasons to use a language other than English. A lot of people overseas watch German, French and Italian TV via satellite for example to stay up on their language skills. Yet, we do not have these opportunities in the US.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  211. Sharon from NW Illinois

    Jack, I think it should be mandatory from age 2. French and German-OUT! Mandarin Chinese IN! What have the French and Germans done for us lately?

    January 19, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  212. Michelle

    It's China's world, and we simply live in it! I would not worry about learning Chinese. When China does take over, I'm sure they will know English. Maybe our next national debate should be whether we want to be known at Chiamerica or The United States of China.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  213. Tom Robinson

    Yes, definitely. Learning a people's language helps one better understand their culture, the way they conceptualize, etc. It should be a matter of national defense.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  214. papillon

    Yes, make them - at age 7 or so. As a foreign-language teacher, most research I've read says the earlier the better (to learn another language).
    Make them - just like you make them go to school. Strict parenting has helped kids for centuries and millenia - I know it is politically correct today to coddle kids, be a "friend" to your child rather than risk being a "hated" parent. When they to age 16 or so, give them more choices at school, etc. - but until then, make them learn at least on foreign language, and Chinese might one day be just as useful as Spanish today!

    January 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  215. Andii Heimdahl

    Learn Chinese? Absolutely! I have no children but am teaching myself. It is best to know...after all, how will you know what they are talking about..especially, if the talk is about YOU. That's OK fellow Americans...go ahead and be ignorant if you wish; I will understand them and you won't. Ignorance is not bliss.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  216. Jaya Vijayasekar

    Absolutely Jack. Chinese is an important language. That said, learning at least one language other than English is critical for our country; learning languages gives us multiple perspectives on issues and gives us access to another way of thinking! I never give up the opportunity to quote Nelson Mandela who said, "When you speak to a man in a language he understands, that message goes to his head- when you speak to him in his own language, that message goes to his heart." We increase our chances of reciprocal understanding and for world peace as we learn other languages of the world.

    All Best,

    January 19, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  217. Pat

    I see nothing wrong with having kids learning Chinese. I think it would be good for them. In fact, I wouldn't mind learning some myself, even at my old age!

    January 19, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  218. Dodie

    The learning of another language is always valuable!

    January 19, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  219. Mark in Las Vegas

    I took Japanese in college with the thought that it would be good for business as Japan dominated the markets at that time. I met many friends and used it everyday but never needed it for business. As for Chinese, I don't think American children will need it for business as China does not have open markets however for some it will be great for business and others may use it for the tourist industry in Las Vegas and Hawaii.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  220. Dan from Nevada

    It's nice to know we'll all have to speak chinese. I guess it's better than German. My father is rolling over in his grave. Why are we flushing our language and culture down the drain. Isn't this America??

    January 19, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  221. D. Peter Waterman

    Peter in VT – Jack I would teach them a phrase that they may have never seen, "MADE IN USA".

    January 19, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  222. Jeff North Carolina

    No. Children should learn math and science to compete with the Chinese. If they don't become more savy in those fields then it won't matter what language we speak because we won't be a player in the world economy.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  223. John

    My wife and I absolutely plan to send our children to chinese school. My wife is 100% bilingual, however her 1st language is obscure and wouldn't be very pratical (Burmese). We are going to make every effort to raise our kids to be trilingual, (english, burmese and chinese). It can't hurt anything and could give our children untold advantages in life. Why wouldn't you do it?

    January 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  224. Kim Smith

    Make up your mind. It's either Spanish or Chinese, but not both.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  225. Judith

    Why not! Don't chinese learn engligh?

    January 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  226. Dodie

    I am currently learning Chinese. However, wo bu dong jian den zong wen

    January 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  227. Frank Greene

    My 25 year old daughter asked me about 10 years ago what she should do for a career. I said learn Mandarin. She never did, but it can't hurt.

    Frank Greene

    January 19, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  228. Tyrone in New York

    I would STRONGLY encourage my kids to learn Chinese to have more opportunities for the future. I've been reading some of the answers posted and its astonishing how 19th and 20th century MANY Americans are. This isn't about not having patriotism and pride in one's own country, its about globalization. Its disgusting that many of these rising powers know our language and culture and we know nothing about theirs. If for anything else, "no your enemy in order to beat him". Think about THAT one folks for the year 2050 when it is expected that China could be the most powerful country on earth.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  229. Dodie

    @ Stewart in Portland

    Ni Hao. Ni shi shuo Putonghua ma?

    January 19, 2011 at 5:57 pm |