AFP had a story recently entitled "China's rapid rise spurs Americans to learn Chinese". An excerpt:
China is casting such a huge shadow on the United States that many Americans are scrambling to learn the Chinese language in a bid to retain their competitive edge.The report also mentioned the following:
"Interest in learning Chinese among American youth and their parents has grown dramatically in the past five years," said Vivien Stewart, vice president at the Asia Society, a US group trying to bridge the gap between Americans and the peoples of Asia and the Pacific.
China's dramatic rise to near superpower status and its telling effects politically, economically and culturally are driving the interest to learn the language, experts say.
[In US schools] Japanese is the most-sought-after Asian language.I have been struck for some time by how ordinary Americans seem to know much more about Japanese culture and history than about Chinese culture and history, despite the fact that the latter are obviously richer. Clearly, Japan's economic power counts here. Cultural power comes from economic power.
"Our nation's schools are locked in a time warp," said Charles E.M. Kolb, president of the Committee for Economic Development, a pro-business think tank in Washington. "By ignoring critical languages such as Chinese and the essential cultural knowledge needed to succeed, our school systems are out of step with new global realities," he said.
However, as Mr Kolb said, there are new global realities, and Americans have to learn to adjust to them or find themselves at an increasing disadvantage in the global political and economic spheres.