Putonghua on the rise among US elites

By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/12 20:53:40

Trump’s granddaughter shows Chinese language learning still popular

Chinese learning is gaining growing popularity in the US, as President Donald Trump's granddaughter made a splash on social media after singing a Chinese folk song and reciting ancient poems in front of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife at a summit last Friday.

Insiders observed that it showed China's culture exerting more influence in the US, especially on those who are curious about its economic development or have huge demand for using the Chinese language in their everyday work.

A video showing Arabella Trump, daughter of Ivanka and Jared Kushner, singing "Jasmine," a classic folk song, and reciting poetry from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and quotes from "Three Character Classic," a set of lessons based on Confucian teachings, went viral on China's social media.

The video has received 9.9 million clicks on Sina Weibo as of press time.

But it is not only the Trump family learning the language. Many other US families, particularly wealthy ones, are investing big money in their children's study of Chinese, while hiring a Putonghua-speaking nanny is becoming popular.

Putonghua is the standard Chinese that is spoken on the Chinese mainland.

In 2012, Ivanka told media that her daughter, then 16 months old, was studying Putonghua with a Chinese nanny.

As early as 2006, an increasing number of families in the US were looking to employ Chinese nannies, not so much for their child-rearing abilities, but their language skills, according to a BBC report at the time.

Li Xi, a 25-year-old Chinese who used to be a nanny in a US family in Iowa, told the Global Times that the cost is not so high.

"They paid me $10 per hour to teach their 3-year-old kid Chinese to enhance his 'competitiveness,' and required me to speak Chinese all the time," said Li.

Apart from hiring a Putonghua-speaking nanny, American children can also study Chinese in community church schools, language-immersion schools, or through college courses.

Hao Yu, 29, who taught students Chinese in the University of Maryland for three years, said that the number of students who chose her courses has been increasing and many students were non-Chinese.

"Some American students chose the course because they like the Chinese culture and language after visiting China," said Hao.

Others did it because many enterprises require their employees to understand Chinese, said Hao, adding that one of her students who majored in global studies went to Harbin, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province through an exchange program, out of interest in China's economic development and reforms.

According to China Radio International, some parents in the US even spend whole nights standing in line to apply for the widely popular Putonghua-immersion elementary school, the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, which only accepts 3 percent of applicants.


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