A few days ago, it was Chinese New Year. I went to the Chinese fair, which was celebrated in Melbourne China Town, with my family. It was an interesting day for me because it was the first time I experienced this occasion in another country – Melbourne. When I walked around the fair, two things came into my mind. Therefore, today I plan to write this post for sharing those things.
1. The Band, including 4 or 5 Australian guys, performed Chinese songs:
Nowadays, it is normal that English, which is the second language of Asian, is studied by the Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and so forth. However, it is amazing that it is possible to see some Western or Australian people use Chinese fluently in their speaking and writing. To explain that, there may be the tendency to learn Chinese (specifically Mandarin) or Japanese. Turning back to the day, when I walked around the fair, I was so surprised to hear the band, including 4 to 5 Australian guys, was singing some old Chinese songs such as Tong Hua. This realistic experience and other times – when I had heard the Australian used Chinese to talk with his/her colleagues on the train – make me curious about the questions:
Why do they learn Chinese, while their native language is used globally?
To figure out the answer, I have googled the question. After doing that, I found out two reasons.
The first reason is that there is a dramatic increase in China’s economy. According to Scott & Sam (2016), if the forecasted average growth rates are realistic, China’s GDP will cross the U.S level in 2028. Why do I think this reason suit the tendency I have mentioned above? To answer this question, I answer the question – Why do Asian people tend to study English? Because, for them, the U.S, the U.K, Canada, and Australia are four developed countries, where it is possible for them to dig into advance achievements about science and technology. Furthermore, they are the countries where they can get a job with a higher income. Therefore, what will happen if China’s GDP is projected to cross the U.S level in 2018? That’s right! it is possible that most people, including people who come from Americas, Oceania, and the U.K, will learn Chinese (Mandarin).
The second reason is that they would like to connect Chinese people. China is the most overpopulated country which means China is standing in the first rank of the world population. There is no doubt about the population of China is up to roughly 1,4 billion now. Further, Chinese people exist everywhere from the Western to the Eastern. For example, it is extremely easy to meet Chinese people on the street in Melbourne – Australia. Moreover, the Melbourne suburb, namely Box Hill, is the area where almost Chinese people are living. As my friend who is the Chinese guy said that there was no English in Box Hill. It means people prefer to use Mandarin than English for communicating. Further, it is the fact that Chinese (Mandarin) is the most spoken language in the world. Lane (2017) states there are almost 1,2 billion people who are able to speak Chinese natively. So what will happen if we are living in the Chinese community and we just know English and Vietnamese? Of course, we will be difficult to communicate with them. From what I know, the great way to connect each other is using their native language to talk with them.
Why do they speak Chinese so good although they are not Chinese native speakers?
The secret is “try hard”. Trying hard is one of the traits of success, especially learning every language such as English or Chinese (Mandarin). Is it better for your language skills in the case you do not tend to spend your time on it and usually complain that it is too difficult to learn?
2. When non-native speakers speak English:
There is no doubt that Australia is the multicultural country. Thus, there are a lot of people who come from other countries live here. That is also the reason for dealing with many different English accents here. If we do not get along with them for a long time, it can be quite hard to catch up what they say at the first time.
I remember that when I went to CommonWealth Bank to open my bank account, it was the first time I could not catch up what the staff who was the Indian guy talked to me. It means his accent was not similar to what I heard the native accents on YouTube, BBC News, CNBC, and other sites. After opening the account, I went back home and wondered myself about the reason for that situation. Then, I discovered that when I learned English, I had not listened to non-native accents on the Internet. It means I just learn from the native ones. That was why I could not understand what the staff said. To solve this problem, I have come to some places where people were non-native speakers although they could use English fluently so that I could communicate with them to train my ears to understand what they said. As a result, now I can partly understand what they say.
Another example is that my friend who is the Vietnamese guy talked to me about his first week in university. This week is the first week at university after a long time learning English here (10 weeks). I asked my friend how his first week was. Then he complained that he could not understand what his lecturers and tutors presented in class. He explained that he was studying Engineering and his lecturers and tutors were non-native speakers. It means it was too hard for him to catch up what they presented by using non-native accents. As a result, this week may be so boring for him – I guess.
I tell this story because I want to emphasize that it is important for us to learn other languages, especially English, from both native speakers and non-native ones. In regard to the workplace, as we are living in the multicultural world, it is possible for us to work with colleagues who use English without the native accent. To work well together, it is necessary to understand what they say at first. Furthermore, when we are co-workers, teammates, friends, or classmates, it does not matter where we come from, but it matters how great we treat each other. So, please stop “racism” and “discrimination”.
Lane, J 2017, ‘The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World’, Babbel, viewed 23 Feb 2018, <https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/the-10-most-spoken-languages-in-the-world>.
Scott, M & Sam, C 2016, ‘Here’s How Fast China’s Economy Is Catching Up to the U.S’, Bloomberg, 12 May 2016, viewed 23 Feb 2018, <https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2016-us-vs-china-economy/>.