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Why Not To Learn An Asian Language
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ghostrider



Joined: 27 Jun 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 9:12 am    Post subject: Why Not To Learn An Asian Language Reply with quote

Quote:
Australia, America, New Zealand, and Canada are nations of immigrants. China and almost all the other old-world countries are not....
In the 8/6/12 Forbes magazine, former Singapore Lee Kuan Yew says Japan has a suicidal fertility rate of 1.39. Anything less than 2.1 means your population is shrinking. The U.S. fertility rate is 2.1335. But unlike many other countries with sub-2.1 fertility rates, Japan prohibits immigrants. They really do not like gaijin—and gaijin who speak and write fluent, perfectly-accented Japanese are no exception. So don’t waste your time.


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Here, we are friendly to all and appreciate a foreigner who goes to the trouble to learn our language. In Asia, as the Wall Street Journal said, they regard a foreigner who speaks perfect Japanese or, I suspect Mandarin, the way we would regard a Chimpanzee who could play a song on the piano. Pretty good trick but I still wouldn’t want my daughter to marry him.


Quote:
I once had a hostile encounter with an American college senior about studying an Asian language. I had just gotten my MBA at Harvard Business School and was working at Crocker National Bank’s main headquarters in San Francisco. The conversation went like this.

American majoring in Japanese: Who do I speak to about working for Crocker in Japan?

Me: Do you have an MBA?

him: No. A lot of people say I need one but my professor says I don’t.

Me: Your finance professor?

Him: No. I do not have a finance professor. He’s my Japanese professor. I am about to graduate from college here in San Francisco with a BA in Japanese.

Me: He’s wrong. You need an MBA.

Him: My professor says banks like this one need Japanese speakers so you can do business in Japan.

Me: He’s right about that. But we have them. They are called native Japanese citizens.

Him: But they would not have my knowledge of American English and culture.

Me, now exasperated and fed up with him: Come with me.

I then introduced him to one of my Harvard MBA classmates who was hired to Crocker at the same time as me the previous June.

Me: This is Yoshi. For the last two years, he and I were classmates at Harvard Business School. We both graduated with MBAs. He is a native Japanese and a Japanese citizen. He is married to a Japanese woman and has two Japanese kids. They all speak Japanese like the natives they are. If you want to get a job in international banking here or at any other large bank, you will have to prove that you speak Japanese as well as Yoshi and know Japanese culture as well as he does and that you have equal or better skills that relate to the banking business, like an MBA from a top business school. You cannot just be an American native Japanese-English translator.

I assume the kid went home and cried.

Welcome to the NFL, rookie. And sayonara.


Quote:
I have heard Chinese brag that they are superior to us Westerners because they have a 3,000-year-old culture. Everyone has a 3,000-year-old culture, unless you arrived from another planet recently. Oh, wait. People from the “center of the universe” sort of would think that’s exactly what we did, wouldn’t they?

What China has is not changing some things over 3,000 years, like their picture writing.

My ancestors in Europe had picture writing, too. Hieroglyphics. Cave paintings. But my ancestors figured out that an alphabet made a lot more sense—in 730 BC. So we switched. The Chinese did not.

Slow learners? No. Apparently just 2,300 years of mindless, not-invented-here stubbornness. Which is nothing to brag about.


Quote:
The Journal had a startling fact that did not surprise me in the least having fiddled around with Mandarin at one time—and studied other languages. The U.S. State Department Foreign Service Institute says it takes 2,200 class hours, with half of them in the country in question, to become competent in Mandarin. Spanish, they say, only requires only 600 to 750 class hours to learn.


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As for Korea... its quite different than China. It's a democracy for one, but not an old one. Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world only about 50 years ago. Think about that! Think of Zimbabwe turning into a top 10 world economy in about 50 years, or roughly 2 generations of people. That creates a lot of pride. Also, Korea is a very old country. During my cultural training I was told Korea is about 5000 years old, but has been invaded roughly 1000 times!! But their country has remained in tact amazingly. That also creates a lot of pride.


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When I was hired I was gung ho to learn Korean, but I learned that it's pretty useless to become fluent, at least for the purpose of advancing in a Korean company. You can't just learn the language, you must learn the culture - and practice it. There are so many little things in Korean culture which we westerns don't have, or probably think is stupid, but they exist in these Asian cultures - and are essential.

http://www.johntreed.com/Learning-Mandarin.html

I've known plenty of Koreans that have been studying English for decades. Being bilingual in Korean and English is not really a rare ability. By itself it won't open a lot of doors. Getting a qualification like an MBA would be a much better investment of your time if you want to advance your career. If you want to learn a foreign language then why not learn a language like Spanish? You can learn it in a fraction of the time that it takes to learn Korean and you won't have deal with all the xenophobia that is common in Asian nations. In Latin American countries, people are often are a mixture of European, African, and Amerindian descent so you're much less likely to feel excluded due to your appearance and ancestry.
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Deja



Joined: 18 Mar 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spanish? It's spoken in the very poor South American countries mostly. The bigger and more developed ones use Portuguese, which while fairly similar, is not similar enough when you need it for business.

Not to mention that known Spanish/Portuguese in South America is not of great use - they have enough English-speaking folks for what they need them.
Unless you offer something extremely positive to them, it is not as useful.
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World Traveler



Joined: 29 May 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deja wrote:
Spanish? It's spoken in the very poor South American countries mostly.
Which is exactly why it is important to know. Because those countries are going to get richer in the future. Emerging/developing markets are where fortunes can be made. Spanish is very useful. It's a good language to learn and know.
http://akarlin.com/2011/05/01/top-10-most-useful-languages/
Quote:
Spanish speaking countries include: Spain, Colombia, Peru, Venzuela, Ecuador, Guatamala, Cuba, Bolivia, Honduras, Paraguay, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Equatorial Guinea, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Domincan Republic, Nicarahua, and Uruguay. Wow, that’s 21 countries.
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Fox



Joined: 04 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chinese, Korean, and Japanese are certainly more time consuming to learn than Spanish, and yes, East Asian culture is probably more xenophobic than, say, Spanish culture. None the less, we live in Korea, not Spain, some of us for a long period of time. Whatever one might think the value of Korean in Korea is, it's higher than the value of Spanish by a substantial amount. Of further importance is the matter of your goal for the language you're learning. I've got concrete goals for both Korean and Chinese, I don't have one for Spanish, so why should Spanish's relative ease be a factor? I don't buy something I don't want just because it's on sale, and I don't forego something I really want just because it's a bit expensive. The same principal is at work here (of course I'm not discouraging anyone from learning Spanish if they feel they'd benefit from doing so, it's just a personal example).

Moreover, Ghostrider suggests that Korean/English bilingualism is not especially rare. Look at almost anything translated from Korean to English to see how questionable that assumption is. The article goes into this as well; right after it suggests that learning these languages is simply too challenging for Americans, who simply cannot learn a language to fluency, it suggests that the denizens of Korea, Japan, and China -- at least the ones "worth" conversing with -- will all speak competent English! The simple fact is that East Asian English proficiency is ridiculously low. Guys like "Yoshi" from the article -- Japanese natives who go on to study for an MBA at Harvard, and possessed of adequate English proficiency to do so -- are the atypical elite in this regard, not the norm. Korea and Japan have some of the worst TOEIC scores in the world, and it's not because the nation is full of competently bilingual people. The fact that Koreans often undermine their English education system in the exact same way described in the article in the shipping company example, while it may reinforce the xenophobia point, completely diminishes the point about them having "learned" English.

Finally, almost every person I've met with serious complaints or unhappiness about being here in Korea is a person who didn't bother to learn Korean. Not knowing Korean results in at least some degree of increased isolation, both in the work place, and outside of it. Moreover, for all the talk of xenophobia, I've had plenty of Koreans acknowledge the efforts I've made to learn their language and lament that more foreigners don't do the same thing, because they really would like to interact with them, and because it makes them feel the foreigner has no respect for them or their culture (a sentiment shared by plenty of people in the United States when confronted with the notion of a foreigner who doesn't bother to learn English). Let's not take the truth that Korea is an atypically xenophobic nation and extrapolate it too far: most people here are still reasonable human beings.

Oh, and one last chuckle from the article: "How do Chinese, Japanese, and Korean dictionaries and filing systems put things in alphabetical order when they have no alphabet?" Yes indeed, how do the Koreans manage without an alphabet? I don't know, best not bother learning their language. It's probably a dumb language anyway, right?
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robbie_davies



Joined: 16 Jun 2013

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 4:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Why Not To Learn An Asian Language Reply with quote

ghostrider wrote:

I've known plenty of Koreans that have been studying English for decades. Being bilingual in Korean and English is not really a rare ability. By itself it won't open a lot of doors. Getting a qualification like an MBA would be a much better investment of your time if you want to advance your career.


The MBA is the biggest con in Academia.

How many MBA's do I know teaching English. Rolling Eyes

As for learning Mandarin, I know of a non native English speaker who earns around 40000 RMB a month giving presentations about passing the IELTS examination - just because he learned Mandarin and got off his backside.
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edwardcatflap



Joined: 22 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
As for learning Mandarin, I know of a non native English speaker who earns around 40000 RMB a month giving presentations about passing the IELTS examination - just because he learned Mandarin and got off his backside.


He might be making a lot of money but he's suckering the mugs who go to things like that. You won't get a good IELTS score by attending presentations in your own language. As you should know, as an examiner.
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robbie_davies



Joined: 16 Jun 2013

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

edwardcatflap wrote:
Quote:
As for learning Mandarin, I know of a non native English speaker who earns around 40000 RMB a month giving presentations about passing the IELTS examination - just because he learned Mandarin and got off his backside.


He might be making a lot of money but he's suckering the mugs who go to things like that. You won't get a good IELTS score by attending presentations in your own language. As you should know, as an examiner.


I wouldn't say he is suckering anyone. People will pay if the person giving out the information has knowledge to impart - seeing as he has studied for and passed an IELTS examination himself - he would know a lot more about passing an IELTS exam than I do - or you. He has shown a ton of initiative and learning the host language has got him to where he is (earning more money their either of us.)
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edwardcatflap



Joined: 22 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:


I wouldn't say he is suckering anyone. People will pay if the person giving out the information has knowledge to impart - seeing as he has studied for and passed an IELTS examination himself - he would know a lot more about passing an IELTS exam than I do - or you. He has shown a ton of initiative and learning the host language has got him to where he is (earning more money their either than us.)


Come on, there's no secret shortcut worth paying money for that you can't get out of the back of an IELTS book. Unless he's teaching them how to cheat without being caught. Just don't think he's a great role model to hold up to people for learning languages, that's all.
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robbie_davies



Joined: 16 Jun 2013

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

edwardcatflap wrote:
Quote:


I wouldn't say he is suckering anyone. People will pay if the person giving out the information has knowledge to impart - seeing as he has studied for and passed an IELTS examination himself - he would know a lot more about passing an IELTS exam than I do - or you. He has shown a ton of initiative and learning the host language has got him to where he is (earning more money their either than us.)


Come on, there's no secret shortcut worth paying money for that you can't get out of the back of an IELTS book. Unless he's teaching them how to cheat without being caught. Just don't think he's a great role model to hold up to people for learning languages, that's all.


Depends doesn't it? You have people like Steelrails who admit to not particularly liking teaching and don't see it as a calling and then you have
other people like Julius who think it is a waste of time getting more postgraduate qualifications because 'they' keep moving the goalposts it's not 'fair' and then there are people like World Traveler who is one of the best teachers in Korea but would like to earn more money - so, the example in my post is just an idea of what learning a language can do for someone in regards making money if one wants to move ahead without having to deal with pesky postgrad quals or if they fancy a change of pace outside of teaching.

And there are schools in China such as 'Beijing New Oriental' which are geared to teaching students how to pass IELTS/TOEFL - It is a billion dollar business over there and that is why an examiner gets paid what they do.
So - it can't be as easy as buying a book and reading it to pass the exam - again - I haven't passed IELTS or TOEFL so what do I know - all I know is the gentleman concerned (known by the name of 'Bobby') is making a handsome fortune from it. What is even more surprising is that a native speaker hasn't cornered that particular niche - but it has only just occurred to me that it will be a minimal amount of native speakers who will have studied and passed an IELTS exam.
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edwardcatflap



Joined: 22 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
So - it can't be as easy as buying a book and reading it to pass the exam


As you know, there is no pass and fail at IELTS but assuming you mean get a good score, you don't do this by reading a book. I was talking about the exam tips you get in the back of a book that can help you do better. Mostly obvious stuff like read the questions properly and spend five minutes planning the writing section etc... However the only way to guarantee a good score is to attain a high level of English. Which you won't achieve by attending seminars in Chinese. As you know, those IELTS hagwans exist in Korea and you can usually tell the candidates who've attended them as they come in and try and use the pretty see-through and ineffective techniques they've been taught, in the writing and speaking sections. But there is no shortcut.

Quote:
I haven't passed IELTS or TOEFL so what do I know


Again you're talking about passing or failing which as you know isn't relevant. Also I find your reasoning a bit strange on this one. Do you think you have to
take the exam to know how to get a good score? Do you think you wouldn't be able to get a good score if you took the IELTS exam tomorrow? As a native speaker?. I'd think that even on an off day I'd be able to get an eight. What do you think your friend knows about the exam that you don't? I'm genuinely curious
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robbie_davies



Joined: 16 Jun 2013

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

edwardcatflap wrote:

As you know, there is no pass and fail at IELTS


Don't be an arse Edward - you know exactly what I am talking about - it is like a GCSE - you don't get a fail with them either but anything under a 'C' is treated as a fail - anything under '6' is treated like a fail by the students who take the exam - and we both know it.

Quote:
But assuming you mean get a good score, you don't do this by reading a book.


Are you doing this on purpose?

Quote:
I was talking about the exam tips you get in the back of a book that can help you do better. Mostly obvious stuff like read the questions properly and spend five minutes planning the writing section etc... However the only way to guarantee a good score is to attain a high level of English.


Yep, that is correct, takes years of study to attain - like all languages.


Quote:
Which you won't achieve by attending seminars in Chinese


Who is saying it does? I suppose it is something like 'weightwatchers' going to meetings itself doesn't make you lose the weight but it is a support group that gives out dietary tips and encouragement and advice. Except the gentleman concerned, charges what he does because there seems to be a demand for his seminars and people are willing to pay. Don't shoot the messenger on this one.

Quote:
As you know, those IELTS hagwans exist in Korea and you can usually tell the candidates who've attended them as they come in and try and use the pretty see-through and ineffective techniques they've been taught, in the writing and speaking sections. But there is no shortcut.


But guess what - they have paid someone to teach them the shortcuts and therefore - someone is making a good living out of it - and whoever it is - they are making more than 2.2 million won a month.

Quote:
Again you're talking about passing or failing


Anything under 6 is seen as a fail. You know it and so do I.

Quote:
Which as you know isn't relevant.


I have just 'lol'ed' Laughing


Quote:
Also I find your reasoning a bit strange on this one. Do you think you have to take the exam to know how to get a good score?


Of course but then you also seem to be ignoring how the cultures in the countries we work and live in operate. IELTS is big business, there is a lot riding on getting a score of 6.5 or more. The people taking the exams in Korea and China will pay good money to gain every advantage - it is like those famous tutors in Hong Kong that were on the news recently. Yes, study, study, study is the key but also, there will be people who want to make money and exploit this need.


Quote:
Do you think you wouldn't be able to get a good score if you took the IELTS exam tomorrow?


I would personally but there are people who are native speakers who get crap scores, native speaker nurses from Great Britain have to take the IELTS test in Australia and a lot of them admit it isn't a cakewalk. I have also just found out Australian, Kiwi, Canadian etc medical staff have to take the IELTS test if they want to work in the UK.

Quote:
As a native speaker?. I'd think that even on an off day I'd be able to get an eight. What do you think your friend knows about the exam that you don't? I'm genuinely curious


There is a reason he makes money, and that is through results - if he wasn't delivering then he would soon go out of business. Is he a charlatan or a fraud? I honestly don't know except he is making a good living out of it. He isn't on his own - how much are schools like Beijing New Oriental
making out of it? They are on the NYSE! That is how much money there is in EFL in China and IELTS, Bobby is just getting his share of the pie and it is there for us too if we learned the language like he did. There is no real reason for a native speaker to be earning 5000 RMB a month in China if one uses a bit of initative - that is all. Rolling Eyes
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OP,

You're quoting a Harvard MBA. C'mon.
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edwardcatflap



Joined: 22 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

edwardcatflap wrote:

As you know, there is no pass and fail at IELTS


Don't be an arse Edward - you know exactly what I am talking about - it is like a GCSE - you don't get a fail with them either but anything under a 'C' is treated as a fail - anything under '6' is treated like a fail by the students who take the exam - and we both know it.

Quote:
But assuming you mean get a good score, you don't do this by reading a book.


Are you doing this on purpose?

Quote:
I was talking about the exam tips you get in the back of a book that can help you do better. Mostly obvious stuff like read the questions properly and spend five minutes planning the writing section etc... However the only way to guarantee a good score is to attain a high level of English.


Yep, that is correct, takes years of study to attain - like all languages.


Quote:
Which you won't achieve by attending seminars in Chinese


Who is saying it does? I suppose it is something like 'weightwatchers' going to meetings itself doesn't make you lose the weight but it is a support group that gives out dietary tips and encouragement and advice. Except the gentleman concerned, charges what he does because there seems to be a demand for his seminars and people are willing to pay. Don't shoot the messenger on this one.

Quote:
As you know, those IELTS hagwans exist in Korea and you can usually tell the candidates who've attended them as they come in and try and use the pretty see-through and ineffective techniques they've been taught, in the writing and speaking sections. But there is no shortcut.


But guess what - they have paid someone to teach them the shortcuts and therefore - someone is making a good living out of it - and whoever it is - they are making more than 2.2 million won a month.

Quote:
Again you're talking about passing or failing


Anything under 6 is seen as a fail. You know it and so do I.

Quote:
Which as you know isn't relevant.


I have just 'lol'ed'


Quote:
Also I find your reasoning a bit strange on this one. Do you think you have to take the exam to know how to get a good score?


Of course but then you also seem to be ignoring how the cultures in the countries we work and live in operate. IELTS is big business, there is a lot riding on getting a score of 6.5 or more. The people taking the exams in Korea and China will pay good money to gain every advantage - it is like those famous tutors in Hong Kong that were on the news recently. Yes, study, study, study is the key but also, there will be people who want to make money and exploit this need.


Quote:
Do you think you wouldn't be able to get a good score if you took the IELTS exam tomorrow?


I would personally but there are people who are native speakers who get crap scores, native speaker nurses from Great Britain have to take the IELTS test in Australia and a lot of them admit it isn't a cakewalk. I have also just found out Australian, Kiwi, Canadian etc medical staff have to take the IELTS test if they want to work in the UK.

Quote:
As a native speaker?. I'd think that even on an off day I'd be able to get an eight. What do you think your friend knows about the exam that you don't? I'm genuinely curious


There is a reason he makes money, and that is through results - if he wasn't delivering then he would soon go out of business. Is he a charlatan or a fraud? I honestly don't know except he is making a good living out of it. He isn't on his own - how much are schools like Beijing New Oriental
making out of it? They are on the NYSE! That is how much money there is in EFL in China and IELTS, Bobby is just getting his share of the pie and it is there for us too if we learned the language like he did. There is no real reason for a native speaker to be earning 5000 RMB a month in China if one uses a bit of initative - that is all.
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Ok I think he's a fraud and no matter how much money he makes am not impressed. You aren't sure. Fair enough. By the way not wanting to be a smart arse again but some people taking IELTS only need to get In the 5s. Students taking subjects like fine art, tradesmen with a job offer etc...
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robbie_davies



Joined: 16 Jun 2013

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

edwardcatflap wrote:

Ok I think he's a fraud and no matter how much money he makes am not impressed. You aren't sure. Fair enough. By the way not wanting to be a smart arse again but some people taking IELTS only need to get In the 5s. Students taking subjects like fine art, tradesmen with a job offer etc...


Fine, you think he is a fraud - I am sure he is going to lose sleep knowing that is what you think of him. As for me - no, I am not sure if he is or not and even if he is - he isn't the biggest culprit by a long chalk. But he is making a better living than either one of us.

You know and I know - especially in China, most people take IELTS for study options abroad - and they need at least a 6.5 - I have seen students break down into tears on receipt of getting a 5.5. Sure, there probably are trade students who would be happy with a 5.5 - but they are in the minority.
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edwardcatflap



Joined: 22 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Fine, you think he is a fraud - I am sure he is going to lose sleep knowing that is what you think of him. As for me - no, I am not sure if he is or not and even if he is - he isn't the biggest culprit by a long chalk. But he is making a better living than either one of us.


You were the one holding this guy up as a kind of role model. I'm just saying I'm not impressed. I'm sure you're not going to lose any sleep about that either.
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