4 Reasons Not to Learn Mandarin

Shanghai Living

Everyone talks about learning Mandarin, but who can really be bothered? A far more essential skill is defending yourself when people ask, how’s your Chinese? To help you gain fluency in excuses, here are some reasons to put those textbooks down.

It’s selfish

Yes, there are many Chinese people who appreciate foreigners speaking Mandarin. There are at least as many who think ‘damn, there goes my chance to improve my English/ get a better job’ as soon as a nihao drops from your mouth. Speaking English in China is a selfless way to help others.

People will take advantage of you

Let’s presume that you have mastered Mandarin. Great. Now what? Say goodbye to any notions of mornings spent sipping Dragon Well tea, reading the People’s Daily and chatting to the neighbours.

Your friends and family will ask you to run errands on their behalf. It would be unreasonable not to, as you can now complete daily tasks much more easily than they can. You’re in no position to complain; this is what you deserve for being selfish (see reason 1).

Learning Chinese is bad for the economy

As your Mandarin progresses, you will soon realise how much money can be saved by eating at local restaurants with no English menus, going to gyms that don’t advertise in English, and shopping at local markets.

This means, unfortunately, that you will spend less money in China, thereby damaging the economic development of this great nation. If the economy slows down, you may even find that you have reduced your own employment chances.

Do something useful

According to Malcolm Gladwell, getting good at any skill requires 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. That’s a long time (there are less than 9,000 hours in a year, then there’s sleep, work, eating…).

Rather than spending your time being a self-centered drag on the economy, why not pick another pursuit? Volunteer, take up an instrument, learn a language (but just be careful which one).

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