Mandarin is the main language of China. it’s also spoken in Hong Kong (China), Macao (China), Malaysia, Singapore and Chinese communities in many countries around the world. The number of mother-tongue speakers worldwide is about 900,000,000 (estimates vary widely). In terms of native speakers, Mandarin is the number one language worldwide.
China is a hugely important partner of New Zealand in economics and business, cultural influence and regional security. Opportunities for Mandarin-speaking Kiwis are likely to grow enormously in the future, as the need for New Zealand companies to have a presence in China grows. There are many opportunities now for Kiwis to teach English in China. Many Mandarin-speaking tourists already visit New Zealand every year, and this number will almost certainly grow in the future. Asside from the Chinese people in China, New Zealand, of course, has a large Chinese community who will greatly appreciate kiwis making an effort to learn about and taking an interest in their language and culture.
What is incredible is Asian language learning at a tertiary level in New Zealand is decreasing, not increasing. For many young kiwi’s the through of tackling Mandarin can seem daunting, however it doesn’t need to be.
Chinese vocabulary is based on quite simple, monosyllabic elements; words are therefore very short and fairly easy to learn. Chinese grammar is in many ways very straightforward – words can be put together with much more flexibility than in many other languages. There are no endings to put onto words, no problems with masculine and feminine words. There aren’t even any tenses!