One poster to a C-E translation-oriented mailing list recently said Chinese is just too hard for it to be a worthwhile venture for most students. He was attacked as having bought into the myth that "foreigners just can't learn Chinese," but I think he had a point. Well, it's not so difficult, but it's time-consuming. According to the Foreign Service Institute, it takes more than three times the instruction hours for a native English speaker to become fluent in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Arabic than German, French, or Spanish. (Not that becoming fluent is the only goal in learning a language--if it were, Japan's juku industry would be bankrupt!)
In this opinion piece, Bloomberg columnist, Andy Mukherjee, reacts to reports that "the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee is considering a proposal to allocate $1.3 billion to public schools":
In 2004, Alan Greenspan, talked about math education's being a threat to U.S. competitiveness in a Senate Banking Committee hearing. The Federal Reserve chairman's concerns were validated in a Bloomberg News article last week about the Chartered Financial Analyst exams.
Chinese students, the article said, had the highest pass rate in the world in last month's CFA Level I test, followed by Germany and India. The U.S. was fourth.
Kindergarten students in Portland, Oregon, are learning that a triangle is "San-Jiao" in Mandarin, according to the Associated Press. They might learn something more useful by playing with an abacus.
See the original AP story he's reacting to here.