Sexy Mandarin will get less sexy with age

By David Dawson Source:Global Times Published: 2012-6-24 19:55:02

Sexy Mandarin will get less sexy with age
As any tourist who has tried to talk to a pretty Chinese girl can tell you, attraction is a powerful motivator. On the other hand, those who have been burned by "tea scams" or sketchy language partners will tell you that pretty girls and language learning don't mix.

Still, if recent news is any indication, there would appear to be an avenue for "sexy" language learning.

No, I'm not talking about those cads who indulge in short-term relationships in order to improve their language skills. In the latest news, feminists are enraged about a new online language school called Sexy Mandarin which, well, given the title, do I really need to explain?

Whilst it's not pornographic, it does require some explaining if you like to catch up on lessons during your breaks at work. "Uh, yes boss. I'm watching this to improve my language skills. The woman in the bra holding the pillow is teaching me about time. Yes, her giggling friend is teaching me too."

Curious as to what all the fuss was about, and not wanting to dismiss a language school out of hand, I tuned in to their lessons.

Sure, the instructors are attractive and scantily clad. This is one of the things which has caused an uproar, as the company behind the website requires aspiring teachers to submit photos and modeling experience. Sue-Mei Thompson, the executive director of the Hong Kong Women's Foundation said in a state-owned newspaper, that her organization is opposed to anything that "objectifies women as sex objects."

Whilst I can agree with her sentiment, the problem is that I was raised with the brand of feminism that holds a woman's right to choose her own path as the ultimate ideal.

Whilst we should strive towards a society that allows women every opportunity that is afforded towards men, we can't get there by telling them what they can or can't do. It's up to those women to decide whether they want to portray themselves as sex objects, and I'm not the finger-wagging type.

The real question is whether they are being exploited. A sexy presentation doesn't automatically generate that conclusion, and I don't know the circumstances of these women, so that's a question I can't answer.

What I can do however, is judge the website on its merits. So far, there are nine lessons on the site. In terms of language content, they seem pretty similar to other online tutorials I've seen, although the ones there now are clearly geared towards lower-level learners so they're not useful for more advanced students.

I do find myself wondering how they will remain original when they get to more complex topics.

What if you want to take a lesson about meeting your girlfriend's parents? Is it really practical to make that a 'sexy' experience and how useful would that really be? What about a discussion on the ageing population? Political reform?

It seems pretty clear that these lessons will succeed at attracting those with a brief interest in Putonghua or in ogling beautiful women, after all, some of their videos have already attracted 300,000 hits.

The site's creator, Kaoru Kikuchi, a University of Nottingham architecture graduate, told Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper that they're aiming to attract those who are "intimidated" by the idea of learning the language. To me, this more-or-less translates as "beginners, many of whom will lose interest quickly."

I'm pretty sure those who decide they are serious about learning Putonghua will find that unlike the language itself, the website will get less sexy with age.


Posted in: Twocents-Opinion

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