Learning a new language can open new doors for you. And if it is a language that has a growing demand with great career opportunities, it becomes a pragmatic choice for a better career.
Thanks to the economic growth of China, more and more business and work opportunities are booming across the world which can be exploited by being proficient in the Chinese language.
Many Bangladeshi students are nowadays learning Chinese to stand out in the race to scholarships for higher studies and to bag better jobs at home and abroad.
A number of experts from different fields spoke with The Business Standard and shed some light on the importance of learning Chinese as a second language.
To gain competitive advantage in the corporate world
For Lailufar Yasmin, Professor of International Relations at University of Dhaka, the biggest motive for learning Chinese is its importance in terms of economics.
"China is already the second largest economy in the world and it is about to become number one, surpassing the US, around 2030," she said.
Mandarin, the official Chinese, is regarded as an important language worldwide because of its growing presence in the business world. Chinese people are actively engaged in many businesses across the globe. So, learning Chinese as a second language would open up lots of opportunities.
She added, "In China's Belt and Road Initiative, Bangladesh is an active member. Moreover, China is one of the largest donors and trading partners of Bangladesh. Many Chinese companies have businesses and long-term investments here. Bilateral trade is also skyrocketing."
According to her, international political dynamics is also playing a significant role.
There has been an increasing tendency to learn Chinese because of China's global development.
China is also looking for more people who can converse in the language. As a result, there has been a growing attraction towards learning Chinese.
Spokesperson of Bangladesh-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCCI), Mamun Mridha, has also emphasized the economic opportunities of Bangladesh as a country if more and more students become interested in learning Chinese.
"The future of businesses will be in China. Whether you like it or not, China is the first place any great business will consider if they want to go international", Mamun said, adding, "furthermore, Chinese corporations are penetrating every sector all over the world and the number is only growing."
For better career options and scholarships
The number of people with Chinese language skills are rare, even in the companies that do a lot of business with Chinese companies or operate in China.
Knowing Mandarin can make you an attractive candidate when you apply for a job in these businesses. Proficiency in the language will put you ahead of others. It also looks good on your resume.
The ability to communicate with over one billion people has major value in the job marketplace. Of course, this includes companies in China and other Mandarin speaking countries that you can apply to.
Companies all around the world are striving to tap into the Chinese marketplace, and you will be able to immediately differentiate yourself if you can speak Mandarin.
Aminul Islam is a Chinese translator who works for the Bangladesh China Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCCI). According to him, learning the language has given him a lot of opportunities.
In 2014, he went to China to study with a Chinese government scholarship. He joined BCCCI after coming back to Bangladesh and has been working for the organization to this day.
"The remuneration a Chinese translator gets is much higher compared to the standard wage in Bangladesh," Aminul said.
"Additionally, there is a huge demand for translators in Bangladesh right now. Studying in China is much less expensive than studying in Europe, Australia or Northern American countries," he added.
According to Mohammad Siddique, Director of Confucius Institute of North South University, "Considering the political and socio-economic factors, Bangladesh has a good relationship with China. Our institution also collaborates with many Chinese universities."
China is offering many scholarships to students and that is also another crucial factor which is inspiring students to learn Chinese. From this year, Confucius Institute is going to offer a four-year-long Honours course in Chinese.
To learn about the culture and to travel to China
China has one of the world's oldest and richest cultures, which is over 5,000 years old.
"As well as the trade, cultural ties between Bangladesh and China are growing. There are many commonalities between the two cultures," said Mamun.
"From my experience in dealing with various Chinese companies, I've seen that they are not very good at speaking English. The gap between effective communication persists but if we know Chinese well, we can gain much more from a good relationship with China," he added.
The tourism industry in Bangladesh is gaining popularity. Chinese tourists are seen in Bangladesh more often than ever before. Mamun remarked that in order to capitalize on the situation, we must learn Chinese, although that is true for other languages as well.
When we travel to a foreign country and know the local language, it becomes extremely convenient and advantageous. For example, in China, it is very difficult to travel if you know only English or your native language. However, knowing Mandarin will make your journey less problematic.
Knowing the language will also help you learn more about the local Chinese places and people, making the trip more insightful and fun.
If you can speak Mandarin, the world will be your oyster and as you travel across Southeast Asia, you will have the confidence to speak with the locals in Chinese, you might even be invited into their homes for a home cooked meal and experience the real Chinese life. Travelling around the world is always more enriching when you make friends with local people.
To boost personal growth
There are cognitive benefits of learning languages, too. Research has shown that speaking more than one language improves memory, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. A person who knows multiple languages can switch from one language to the other very quickly. This process builds your multitasking capacities.
Given how different Chinese characters, grammar, and accents are from Bangla or English, you will have to think outside the box. It is a language that is completely different from what you are used to as a Bengali speaker, which is why it is a great exercise for your brain. It will challenge your mind like never before and you will find yourself stimulated by the new knowledge you are accumulating as you learn this unique language.