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90% of Taiwanese say learning Mandarin beneficial to job, relationships

'Mandarin education should not be a victim of politics,' say National Taiwan Normal University professors

(Taichung City Government Education Bureau photo)

(Taichung City Government Education Bureau photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Arguing that "Mandarin education should not be a victim of politics," the authors of a new survey have found that 90% of Taiwanese respondents believe that learning Mandarin is beneficial to their careers and interpersonal relationships.

The National Taiwan Normal University’s (NTNU) Chinese Language and Technology Center on Nov. 10 announced the results of a survey conducted from Nov. 8-9 on Taiwanese aged 21 to 60. The telephone survey was titled, "Taiwanese people's views on the Mandarin language curriculum" and surveyed respondents on their opinions on Mandarin textbooks and Mandarin courses, gathering 1,092 valid samples in the process, reported UDN.

Chung Chung-hsien (鍾宗憲), the survey's principal investigator, said that with the change of generations, the content of the Mandarin courses has been repeatedly criticized by netizens for being too conservative. However, when asked to rate the importance of Mandarin courses for obtaining knowledge and skills, 50.8% of respondents said it is "very important," while 43.9% said it was "important," bringing the total who consider it important to 94.7%.

In terms of the impact on personal relationships, 91.8% of respondents believe that proficiency in Mandarin has a positive impact on personal relationships. Moreover, Chung added the survey shows that as many as 91.7% of those surveyed believe that acquiring Mandarin language skills has had a positive impact on workplace performance.

Among the four facets of Mandarin abilities — listening, speaking, reading and writing — the respondents chose "speaking" as the most important ability at 53.4%, followed by "reading" at 15.9%. Most respondents said that Mandarin speaking skills should be strengthened, and the younger the person, the more important it is to improve their spoken Mandarin.

As for the respondents' impression of Mandarin classes, Chung pointed out that as many as 76% of respondents had a positive impression, while 21.4% came away with a negative impression. In terms of gender, 83.9% of women had a positive impression of their Mandarin classes, while 68% of men had a positive impression.

Overall, 82.7% of the respondents had a positive impression of their Mandarin teacher when they were studying. A minority, 13.5% of respondents, had a bad impression of their Mandarin instructor.

Chi Li-feng Department of Chinese Literature at NTNU, said that speaking and writing are actually a comprehensive expression of logic. Without organizational skills, they cannot be expressed properly.

In recent years, Chi said that it has also been observed that the younger generation is experiencing a phenomenon called "language degradation," such as more frequent nonsensical expressions and less precise sentences.