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Hey guys, I've been listening to Manager Tools for years now, but I've never signed up to these forums (that I know of) until now... I guess that's because I don't have a job at the moment and have a lot more time on my hands! :)

OK, quite bio: I went to Syracuse University in New York and graduated in 2000, worked as an IT consultant in NYC, got an MBA here in Asia (Taiwan, National Taiwan University), and am looking for a job here in Asia these days - which isn't too easy since my Mandarin is only an intermediate level.

Anyway, I've always enjoyed manager tools, although many of the lessons are a bit above my entry-level status, they still help me prepare for my days of management, and even understand my manager better.

Their latest free interviews material was also a bit of help as of these days as well!

jhack's picture

Welcome!

If you like the free interview stuff, you will absolutely love the interview series.

John

WillDuke's picture

Welcome EA. No job eh? That sounds like the opportunity to listen all day long to MT! :)

terrih's picture

Ooh, ni hao! I'm a little bit jealous. :D

I recently heard Jack Welch say in his podcast that Mandarin is the language to learn if you want to learn one for business purposes. Made me want to pull out my old books and brush up.

I think I'd be considered beginning level. I took a one-year college course, and then the follwing summer in Beijing as a quasi-exchange student. I have a pretty good shopping vocabulary, though. :wink:

Zaijian,

eagerApprentice's picture

Hey guys~ thanks for your welcomes!

[quote]If you like the free interview stuff, you will absolutely love the interview series. [/quote]

I think you are right - they covered a fair amount of stuff with the free material, but it all seemed to just skim the surface of it all - I want more! Actually, this could be the one situation that I can justify coughing up the money to buy something that might be pricey (is it? I'm not sure yet). If not now, when [i]would[/i] I buy this series? :)

[quote]Welcome EA. No job eh? That sounds like the opportunity to listen all day long to MT![/quote]

Heh heh heh - I have indeed been catching up on my podcasts!

It's actually kind of funny to hear how M&M change as they go from their first podcast to now.

[quote]I recently heard Jack Welch say in his podcast that Mandarin is the language to learn if you want to learn one for business purposes. Made me want to pull out my old books and brush up. [/quote]

Cool! Hearing things like this always makes me feel a bit better! I gave up a decent job offer (for me) to come over here, and sometimes I kick myself when things get less than easy in Asia. Hearing stuff like that makes me feel like maybe I do have a clue about what I'm doing. :)

I tried to learn Mandarin in college as well, but for me, I just couldn't get into the language until I came over here - I'm not sure if it's because I'm lazy or that Mandarin is hard (probably a bit of both), but I had to dive into the culture and what-not.

As with you, the first thing I learned (and the thing I remain best at) is eating at a restaurant and shopping. Heh heh heh

James Gutherson's picture

When I went to live in France for a while, the only phrase I learnt was how to ask for a bottle of red wine. I thought I could wing anything from there on :D . Of course living for 6 months in a village where there was no one else who spoke English was great for my French.

Were I to learn a language again (and this thread is inspiring me) it would be Mandarin. I feel we are in the twilight of the Western Europe/US era of business and cultural domination and the next era will be focused on Asia and China in particular (no great insight I know).

I will be pushing my son and daughter to learn Mandarin at school if it is not compulsary by the time they get there. My wife has a friend who is a 30 year old 6'2" tall blonde English girl with perfect Mandarin and a doctorate in International Relations - she will own the world in the next few years :shock:.

And EA - it sounds like you are right in the hitting zone as well. Welcome

terrih's picture

Jim, EA -- have you seen the TV series "Firefly" and/or its spinoff movie "Serenity"? They're set in a future where the US and the PRC have sort of merged. Everyone is bilingual in English and Chinese. (It's more dialect than straight Mandarin, though, because their translator/language coach was from Taiwan.) (edited when I realized I got that wrong)

A lot of Americans think Spanish is the language to learn. Maybe in the short term... but change planes in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport sometime. Hear the announcements given in English, Japanese, and Mandarin. :shock:

Ron Efron's picture

To eagerApprentice:
Drop me an email at [email protected]
I work in Beijing. My company has offices all around greater China including Hong Kong.
I am planning to be in HK during the second week of November. Maybe we can get together.
Ron

James Gutherson's picture

[quote="terrih"]Jim, EA -- have you seen the TV series "Firefly" and/or its spinoff movie "Serenity"? They're set in a future where the US and the PRC have sort of merged. Everyone is bilingual in English and Chinese. (It's more dialect than straight Mandarin, though, because their translator/language coach was from Taiwan.) (edited when I realized I got that wrong)

A lot of Americans think Spanish is the language to learn. Maybe in the short term... but change planes in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport sometime. Hear the announcements given in English, Japanese, and Mandarin. :shock:[/quote]

Thank's Terri - I am a big Buffy/Angel fan, but we only got Firefly here on pay TV. I did manage to track down Serenity at the video store once - but must say I feel it needed the Firefly backstory.

Anyway I DL'd the 'Mandarin Chinese Lessons with Serge Melynk' podcasts and plan to listen on my walk home - MT in the morning - Chinese in the afternoon.

terrih's picture

You are right about Serenity, even though they tried very hard to make it comprehensible to those who didn't see Firefly.

I have my brother to thank... I'd never heard of Firefly, when he gave me the boxed set of DVDs for my birthday. 8) So by the time Serenity came out I was more than ready for it.

Hm, never heard of that Chinese lesson podcast. I've listened to ChinesePod.com, and they seem to have a really good product, but to really make proper use of it one would have to pay for a premium subscription to their online services. I've been considering it, though.

James Gutherson's picture

[quote="terrih"]You are right about Serenity, even though they tried very hard to make it comprehensible to those who didn't see Firefly.

I have my brother to thank... I'd never heard of Firefly, when he gave me the boxed set of DVDs for my birthday. 8) So by the time Serenity came out I was more than ready for it.

Hm, never heard of that Chinese lesson podcast. I've listened to ChinesePod.com, and they seem to have a really good product, but to really make proper use of it one would have to pay for a premium subscription to their online services. I've been considering it, though.[/quote]

I'll let you know by PM how the Podcast is going - I've only listened to ep 1 so far.

wendii's picture

Wow!

This was the last place I expected to find people who knew what Firefly/Serenity was! If only Fox appreciated good TV. There are some really good podcasts for them too.

Probably not the time or place, but just wanted to join in!

Wendii

hamihaha's picture

You can also try Chinese-Tools podcast:
http://www.chinese-tools.com/learn/chinese
Dialogs are all read by the same person, sounds a little weird, but the voice is clear...

terrih's picture

[quote="wendii"]Wow! This was the last place I expected to find people who knew what Firefly/Serenity was![/quote]

Can't stop the signal. :wink:

jhbchina's picture

Nice to see a thread here about the importance of learning Chinese. I came over 4 years ago. I have an intermediate level, and I can tell you it was not easy in the beginning.

On top of learning the language I have been a manager of a corporate training company and have learned a lot about the challenges inside MNC's with Chinese staff. If any one would has any questions about what is really going on here, drop me a line.

I'll be glad to do what I can.
High I & D

eagerApprentice's picture

Hey guys - sorry not to respond sooner - I really had no idea how helpful/friendly/active people were on these forums!

JimGutherson - Great idea to push your kids to learn Mandarin - even though many Chinese learn English, the advantage that is lost in not being able to speak Mandarin is huge in my opinion. Chinese/Taiwanese really appreciate it when you take the time to learn there language as well - they know it's not easy and are usually quite friendly and patient when they see you are trying. My sister refuses to do so for my nephew, and it's driving me crazy.

I also agree with terrih that Mandarin is most likely more important than Spanish in the mid-to-long term future. One of the biggest reasons I decided to come out here a few years ago is because I saw what happened to the clients I worked for when I was a consultant... they didn't close, but all of them moved things to China - and some even moved the WHOLE company to China. I saw a serious trend and jumped.

In that respect, I was happy to see you guys listen to the same podcasts I listen to: I've been listening to chinesepod.com for the last 2 years, and from time to time Serge Melynk's as well - his stuff can be quite practical.

I'd also recommend "Chinese Learn Online" for anyone just starting and trying to get over that initial "wall" of Chinese tones, grammar, and basic phrases. It's from Taiwan, so they tell you what Taiwanese say and what Chinese say if there is ever a difference in an expression/grammar/etc. It is a bit basic for anyone at an intermediate/conversational level though, although it can be good review (which I constantly need!) Also, here is a good website: http://www.china.org.cn/english/features/Lesson/221500.htm

I chuckled a bit when I saw jhbchina's post as well - although I don't know exactly what she may be referring to, I have heard some amazing stories relating to management and what-not that has really made me realize I am on the other side of the world. The first business Chinese word I learned? Guan Xi :D (relationship) Chinese businesses get the job done, but the method seems to be quite different sometimes, and there is a LOT for me to learn there still.

If anyone is ever in HK or going to Taiwan, drop me a note - I am looking for jobs in either area and may be in one of the two places when you are there. Either way, I could at least recommend a good restaurant and/or tourist sight... a lot of my Taiwanese manager-friends were tasked with "taking out the American/European guest", and they always asked me for advice.

James Gutherson's picture

[quote="eagerApprentice"]
I also agree with terrih that Mandarin is most likely more important than Spanish in the mid-to-long term future. One of the biggest reasons I decided to come out here a few years ago is because I saw what happened to the clients I worked for when I was a consultant... they didn't close, but all of them moved things to China - and some even moved the WHOLE company to China. I saw a serious trend and jumped.

In that respect, I was happy to see you guys listen to the same podcasts I listen to: I've been listening to chinesepod.com for the last 2 years, and from time to time Serge Melynk's as well - his stuff can be quite practical.

I'd also recommend "Chinese Learn Online" for anyone just starting and trying to get over that initial "wall" of Chinese tones, grammar, and basic phrases. It's from Taiwan, so they tell you what Taiwanese say and what Chinese say if there is ever a difference in an expression/grammar/etc. It is a bit basic for anyone at an intermediate/conversational level though, although it can be good review (which I constantly need!) Also, here is a good website: http://www.china.org.cn/english/features/Lesson/221500.htm

[/quote]

Thanks EA - I think you were right on the money moving when you did and will have a big advantage on many in the years to come. In my mind we are coming to the twilight of the European/American period of economic and cultural domination. I think the lingua franca of the business world will be Chinese within the next 50 years and anyone who only speaks english (and understands western culture) will be at a significant disadvantage.

I can see that the 'tones' are going to cause me trouble - I have enough trouble varying my tone when I speak English.

adragnes's picture

[quote="JimGutherson"]I think the lingua franca of the business world will be Chinese within the next 50 years and anyone who only speaks english (and understands western culture) will be at a significant disadvantage.[/quote]

I doubt Chinese will become the lingua franca. The part of the world speaking Indo-European languages and who write using alphabets easily dwarf the part speaking Chinese languages. Learning English is far easier for people speaking an Indo-European language themselves.

In 50 years time India will probably have a larger population than China. That population will also be a lot younger and India would have more growth potential.

The usefulness of Chinese as a language is also somewhat constrained by the controls on information in China, but that is hopefully something that will change in the future.

But I agree with the second part of your statement, speaking only English will be a significant disadvantage. If you want to work internationally, it already is.

--
Aleksander Dragnes

thaGUma's picture

I agree with Aleksander on this. Just look at your keyboard. QWERTY has not been needed for generations yet it will continue because it is so ingrained.

Speaking Mandarin will become more advantageous in the coming decades, but it will not overtake english for some time if ever.
Chris

terrih's picture

I think a large proportion of educated Indians are already bilingual in English and Hindi... I don't get a sense that an English-speaker would gain any particular advantage by learning Hindi. But I could be wrong.

Mandarin could become a lingua franca IF the Chinese economy doesn't implode. I don't think it's a foregone conclusion yet. It's not that long ago it looked like we all needed to learn Japanese, but then Japan's economy went into an extended recession.

Mandarin can be written with Roman characters, so the characters aren't that big of a hindrance.

I agree that speaking only English is going to be less and less of a good plan as time goes on. It will be seen as provincial. But we can only make educated guesses as to which other language will be the MOST helpful.

I think it's best to just pick some language that has attractions for you and learn it. Better yet, become a polyglot like my cousin, who was hired by an Amsterdam diamond company because she could speak just about every major European language plus English. :wink:

hamihaha's picture

[quote]Mandarin could become a lingua franca...[/quote]
Mandarin could become a lingua franca, the day people will choose it as first foreign language instead of English. This phenomen must be a global and worldwide phenomen... doesn't looks for tomorrow, but who knows after.

And though Chinese people level of English is far behind Indians, they are also all learning English!

eagerApprentice's picture

Thanks for all of your responses - as you can imagine, this is an issue that I've thought about and debated with my classmates quite a bit these days.

Before I came here, I definitely believed that Mandarin would be the new lingua franca - several years later, I'm not so sure.

I was surprised when many Taiwanese classmates and friends of mine disagreed that Mandarin would be the new dominate language (although they indicated that they certainly wouldn't mind if it did). They believed that Mandarin was just too hard for the world to learn in comparison to English, and anyway, all the businessmen in Asia spoke English.

Also, as was stated, the population in Mainland China is expected to dramatically shrink while India (English speaking) is young and growing strong.

That said, there is no question in my mind that if you want to do business in Asia now, you either have to be REALLY good at what your doing, or be normal like the rest of us and at least speak Mandarin really well. One of the biggest problems I'm having now is that although I'm well qualified for many jobs, I simply cannot compete with those who can read/speak/write Mandarin.

In the future, I'm not sure how global Mandarin will become, but I think that it will become part of many American education systems. In terms of regional affects, I've seen a lot of Koreans, Thai and Japanese quickly studying and learning Chinese here, sometimes instead of English, but often in addition to it.

I personally believe that China is going to have some growing pains in the future economically, and politically...well... it just seems like a matter of time to me, but that is from an American perspective - I am not 100% sure what Chinese are thinking.

One thing is certain to me, India and China are the fastest growing countries, and most Indian professionals speak English well - if an American can speak English and Mandarin, the opportunities are endless!

Back to my character flashcards now... :wink:

[quote]I can see that the 'tones' are going to cause me trouble - I have enough trouble varying my tone when I speak English.[/quote]

Yes! I agree completely - one good thing I can say to you is that even though I very often have the wrong tone, they can understand what I am saying. I think it's like Chinese-English (Chinglish). Even though they often confuse the past/present/future tense and leave out "an" "the", we still understand.

terrih's picture

The more I think about it, the more I think English may last a bit longer as the language of commerce.

I'm deliberately stepping away from the term "lingua franca," which comes from when French was the international language. Sorry Cedwat. :wink: I wonder if anyone predicted the shift to English before it happened.

English is a lot more malleable than the more ancient languages... I think it comes from being cobbled together from Anglo-Saxon, Viking Norse, and Norman French. Translators can tell you that it takes more words to say something in almost any other major language... English seems to be wired for efficiency. Not great for poetry, but excellent for science and commerce.

I haven't found it difficult to learn to speak Mandarin (tones aren't a problem for me, but then I have an aptitude for language learning anyway). But the characters! I've forgotten all but Beijing, Shanghai, Zhongguo (China), and some of the numbers 1-10.

That having been said, I still think it's a good plan to learn a second language. You can't help but pick up some of the nuances of the culture that way. And it's good for your brain 8)

eagerApprentice's picture

[quote="terrih"]I haven't found it difficult to learn to speak Mandarin (tones aren't a problem for me, but then I have an aptitude for language learning anyway). But the characters! I've forgotten all but Beijing, Shanghai, Zhongguo (China), and some of the numbers 1-10.[/quote]

Wow... I jealous about your ability with tones - that is one of the hardest parts of Chinese for me! If you can do the tones, you are halfway to fluent spoken Chinese - really!

As for the characters, I too struggle with them. I have to start learning the simplified ones now, as I've been studying the traditional characters for the last 2 years. Hopefully they will be a bit easier.

But yes, Americans really should master a second language - the hot ones seem to be Mandarin and Spanish.

terrih's picture

For me the hardest thing about tones is that I sometimes forget which tone applies to a word when I haven't used it in a while.

I dunno about "halfway to fluent." :wink: But when I talked to folks in Beijing, they often complimented me on my pronunciation... I think they meant getting the tones right, though I don't know for sure.

What do they speak in Singapore? That might be one to watch also. I think a good rule of thumb in this discussion would be: Follow the money. :idea:

eagerApprentice's picture

[quote="terrih"]What do they speak in Singapore? That might be one to watch also. I think a good rule of thumb in this discussion would be: Follow the money.[/quote]

Singapore is actually English-speaking :) It's a bit frusterating actually, because I'd like to work in Mainland China or Taiwan so I can improve my Mandarin, but the best leads I've gotten for a job so far are there!

Good point with following the money though -

terrih's picture

Hmm. I bet a lot of Singapore companies have ties with Chinese and/or Taiwanese companies, though... :wink:

eagerApprentice's picture

That's actually a really good point - and many of them are expanding into mainland China with the current boom... hmm... point taken. :)

David Buck's picture

[quote="eagerApprentice"]...Am looking for a job here in Asia these days - which isn't too easy since my Mandarin is only an intermediate level."[/quote]

I'm based in Hangzhou, China and from what I've seen, one route that may well be of use to you is to try to get a low-level position in a Chinese company but one where Chinese is the language in use everyday and not a foreign firm where you're speaking English all the time.

In my firm everyone speaks English which means that after almost 5 years my Mandarin is just about getting to a reasonable level whereas I know Americans with 1-2 years experience as 'assistants to managers' whose mandarin is at least on a par conversationally and in terms of business vocabulary better than mine.

If you were to set your sights reasonably low in terms of salary expectations and look upon it as 12 months of 'training' in business Mandarin. You're right that finding somewhere might be tricky but in some of the less well expat-populated cities like Hangzhou there's not exactly a wealth of future management trainees out there - a large part of the expat population are the "English teacher" type that aren't really suitable for or looking for what you are.

I'd agree that Singapore is unlikely to be the best place to increase your Mandarin knowledge as English is pretty widespread, then again, many executive positions definitely also require fluent Mandarin which demonstrates at least the regional value of fluency even if it's not as valuable outside Asia as those of us who've taken the trouble to learn it would like to think it will be!

eagerApprentice's picture

Thanks for your comments David - in the months since I've been job searching, I've found that there is indeed a huge value that should be placed on Mandarin - I am especially focused on Business Mandarin these days, but I also need to become fluent in conversational Mandarin.

About a year ago I made becoming fluent a priority for me in the next few years - I think one reason I did was because it was so hard and I wanted to beat it! But the other, more practical reason, is because I kept reading about the opportunities in Asia, and more than anything else, I want to get some good experience for my career - salary will come in time, I am convinced.

I think you are onto something with the mid-sized Chinese firms as well. I was an in English MBA program in Taiwan, and my friends who were in a Chinese program ended the two years with better Mandarin skills than I had. In the beginning, I was much better than they were. There is nothing like the old "sink or swim" training. :wink: