Ganbei!! China Embraces English Language

Countrywide push is evident in government, on TV and in rise in private schools.

ByABC News
November 14, 2010, 10:32 PM

Nov. 15, 2010 — -- In an effort to promote internationalism, China is learning English.

In the next five years, all state employees younger than 40 will be required to master at least 1,000 English phrases, and all schools will begin teaching English in kindergarten. The government also is funding extensive teacher training programs to find new models for language learning and develop new textbooks.

Check the end of this story for a few phrases in Mandarin, courtesy of LonelyPlanet.

Parents who can afford to, are sending their children -- some as young as 2 -- to private language schools that are popping up all over the country. By the time they are 10, the children will be fluent.

"China is more open to the world," said one teacher. "We [the older generation] want our kids to open their eyes to get to know the world [and] look at China not only from standing in China but from outside of China as well."

State-run TV launched an "American Idol"-type of reality show where kids have to sell themselves in English to clinch the judges' votes.

Signs in not-quite-right English -- "Car Repairable," "Cosme Toulogy" and "Welcom Go Home" -- can be found across the country.

For the adults, learning the language is more of a struggle but it doesn't deter them from trying. And many Chinese hope that more Americans do the same.

"I think that China is very important in the world," said one boy. "I wish that American people can speak, can study Chinese. I think that's very good for us to make friends with them."

Mandarin, Courtesy of shared several Mandarin phrases with "World News with Diane Sawyer" as it broadcasts from China this week.

"Zhe dao cai zhenxiang" means I love this dish.