For year 7 students, good news. There are some free places available for you to learn Mandarin Chinese. Starting in January 2013 for 2 periods a week, after school time / free periods and involving a weekly half hour's homework. Taught by a native speaker and supported by the Confucius Institute at Leiden University, you will need to submit your motivation details here before 22nd of December 2012. Early January 2013 you will be e-mailed news of whether you have been placed in a class or unsuccessful this time round. Good luck!
Top 10 Reasons to Learn Chinese:
1) Chinese is the most widely-spoken language in the world. There are approximately 915 million speakers of Mandarin (without including any of the other dialects such as Cantonese), Learn to speak Mandarin and you can speak with millions of people around the world.
2) China is emerging from a period of stagnation and again taking its place as one of the great powers of the world. China currently has the second largest economy in the world. To take advantage of this huge economic shift and opportunities, learning to speak Chinese is a great way to have an advantage in the increasingly competitive business world. Between equal foreign competitors courting a Chinese company, who will the company choose to associate with: a Chinese-speaking foreigner or a foreigner with a translator?
3) China is moving up the technology 'food chain', e. g. considering the balance of trade between the US and China. Per Nobel Prize Winner Robert Mundell China will become the factory of the world, in my opinion it already has. Now products are built as well as designed in China.
4) China is a huge export market for the US and European countries . 1/5th of the world's population lives in China. Overseas Chinese dominate the economies of many countries in Asia, and speaking Mandarin gives you an edge in doing business with them. Countries with large overseas Chinese populations include Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. China has become one of the largest trading partners with the US and European countries. Trade is not only from China to the US and European countries, but also the other way.
5) Travel - China and Taiwan offer exciting travel opportunities. Getting around is much easier if you can speak Mandarin.
6) Culture - With thousands of years of history, Chinese culture is endlessly fascinating. Whether your interests are in history, architecture, music, or cuisine, a knowledge of Mandarin will enrich your understanding of Chinese culture.
7) Chinese Characters - The Chinese writing system is quite a challenge, but this is another reason to learn it! Despite its difficulty, learning to read and write Chinese will give you a lifetime of intellectual stimulation. The real beauty of the language is revealed in the writing. There are thousands of Chinese characters, but they are not randomly constructed. There is a system to their design, and understanding that system makes it much easier to learn new characters.
8) Learning Chinese will give a student a competitive advantage. Chinese is the fastest growing foreign language being taught in many countries, e. g. in US, Japan, UK and Dutch schools. In France there are more than 400 and in the UK 450 schools offer Chinese as an official school subject. In the Netherlands, there are about 45 middle schools offering Chinese as a school subject and 2 schools offer Chinese as one of the final exam subject. I like Mayor Daly's quote: "We want to give our young people opportunities to advance ... and [Chinese] is a great opportunity to survive in today's economy."
9) Learning another language gives you another viewpoint. When a child uses a word, this word also triggers associations in the brain, brought about by the other languages the child knows. Maybe this is why it seems people who know languages seem smarter. The numerous mental associations playing in their brain, open new ideas. It also helps as people age. Chinese language is a different language system than the western language system.
10) Chinese is one of the 6 official languages in IB Organization.