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The rapidly expanding Asian middle class is predicted to
become the world's major engine of economic growth
While the last century was dominated by English-speaking countries,
there's little doubt the 21st century will be all about the rising
superpowers of China and India.
Recognising this, the federal government recently released the Asian
Century White Paper. It calls for all school students to have the
study Mandarin, Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese from next year and
for a third of the board members of Australia's 200 biggest companies
and a third of the nation's senior public servants to have "deep
experience" in Asia by 2025.
Why learn an Asian language?
Australians – who typically don't speak more than one language unless
they're the children of migrants – have been lucky in that English has
been the international language of business for a long time. But China
is now on track to become the world's largest economy within the next
two decades. And the rapidly expanding Asian middle class is predicted
to become the world's major engine of economic growth. Therefore,
being able to speak an Asian language will be a big benefit to
Australians working in a diverse range of industries. And, given that
relatively few Australians currently possess this type of language
skill, those who do can expect to earn higher wages and get more
opportunities to advance their careers.
Say "ni hao" to the future
It's difficult to think of an Australian industry that isn't being
impacted by the rise of Asia. Whether you're a tourist operator
hosting Japanese travellers, a winemaker wanting to sell Shiraz in
Shanghai, a retailer importing electrical goods from South Korea or a
mining engineer about to be posted to Indonesia, there's a compelling
reason to learn the language of those you'll be doing business with.
There's no getting around the reality that learning an Asian language
can be challenging. For example, it will typically take over 2000
hours of study for an English speaker to gain basic proficiency in
Mandarin. Nevertheless, all the evidence suggests it's a worthwhile
investment of time, and TAFE
NSW's practically orientated language courses are a great place to
start learning the Asian language of your choice.