In recent years, learning Mandarin for business has become one of the main reasons why students are studying Chinese. Lots of Chinese for business courses have popped up, each claiming to be the best program to learn Mandarin for business. However, the actual benefit of these courses varies greatly. For the most part, these courses are for students who already have a good grasp of Mandarin Chinese but need to learn some key business terms so that they can interact with their colleagues and customers more intelligently. In reality, if you have to take a course on business Chinese, you’re likely eying it as a cursory introduction to business rather than needing it to do business.
A recent search on Linkedin for “Chinese language” jobs in the USA yielded over 10,000 results. A closer look into several of those job posts show requirements for candidates to be bilingual. The reality is this. There are many opportunities where someone can use their Chinese language skills in a business or work situation but those require a deep knowledge of the language. A course in business Chinese will most likely not get a person a job that they would have not gotten before without taking the course.
We believe that learning Mandarin for business is no different than learning Mandarin Chinese in general. However, because business Chinese will require knowledge of more specific vocabulary, it’s important that the student becomes a strong reader of Chinese. While we don’t have the recipe for becoming bilingual, there are certain things students can do to get close to the level of a native Chinese speaker. The answer is not just about finding the best website to learn Mandarin but a much more dedicated life long learning commitment.
Start early and focus on reading. For parents who want their kids to learn Mandarin Chinese to be able to work or do business using the language, we suggest starting during grade school and have the kids focus on learning to read Chinese characters first. Once students reach high school, they should be able to pass the Chinese language Advanced Placement (AP) test. In college, we suggest the student do a minor in Chinese language so that they can major in a business or technical field they are interested in. Studying overseas is also a great way to really immerse in the language. So what’s the best program to learn Mandarin in Asia? The two of the very best that we recommend are the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies (IUP) at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China and the International Chinese Language Program (ICLP) at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan. However, these two programs are difficult to get in. Students who graduate from IUP or ICLP are typically fluent enough to obtain jobs requiring native Chinese language fluency. While this is a path a student can take, most people won’t have the dedication or resources to commit to learning Chinese in this way.
An alternative is to have students become really good Chinese readers and then encourage them to be able to read online books, articles and subtitles in movies and TV shows. From that point on, they can choose to focus on a particular area of business or work when necessary and learn from reading. If you are looking for the best website to learn Mandarin reading, try the Mandarin Reading Club. We specialize in getting students interested in reading Chinese so that they can eventually learn on their own.