China Daily,  Published on 9 September 2022

HK sees Putonghua learning momentums

Jouralist: By Oasis Hu

Gaining popularity

Mandarin business grows with the national power, said Joyce Lung, the general manager of Hong Kong Modern Language Centre, a language training school in Central, with Putonghua, Cantonese, and English as the main businesses.

The school, established about ten years ago, after China joined the WTO in 2003 and held the Beijing Olympic game in 2008, had its first batches of students mainly from the financial industry.

The capital of the Chinese mainland poured into Hong Kong, merging, acquiring, and opening companies. Hong Kong residents were recruited. Employees who could not speak Putonghua were unable to make a report to the high-level personnel in the meeting, not to mention getting promotions and pay rises, Lung explained.

The booming of financial industry drove demand for Putonghua learning in its related sectors, Lung stressed.

Mainland business people often consulted local accounting firms and law firms to learn about the city’s different tax and law systems, then accountants and lawyers had to learn Mandarin. Many of those from the mainland came to the city to buy the insurance and seek medical treatment in the private hospitals and nurses also started to learn Mandarin, Lung said.

The social unrest in 2019 hit the Putonghua learning market for a while. However, after the government introduced a series of measures, including the implementation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong in 2020, Putonghua learners have kept rising, snowballing from financial-related industry to all walks of life, including police officers, civil servants, doctors, designers, pop stars, and locals who married people from the mainland or moved to the mainland. The number of clients learning mandarin in the language center has increased by 40 to 50 percent in the last two years, Lung noted.

Enriched career choices

There has always been a demand for expatriates to learn Putonghua, Lung said, adding that more than 25 percent of students in her language center are foreigners.

She divided them into two categories. The first group, aged 30 to 50 with high income, were mainly from mainstream developed countries, such as the United States, Germany, Canada, Korea, Switzerland, etc. They are entrepreneurs who open companies on the mainland, executives working in Chinese companies to help the Chinese capital go global, or executives working in foreign companies to explore the Chinese market.

The other group is mostly youngsters aged around 20 to 30. They are students studying in Hong Kong, Chinese born in foreign countries but returning for their career, or junior staff who intern or work in the global marketing department needing to do business with the mainland market.

Australian Cara Chen came to Hong Kong in 2012 when she was 23. This decision made her closer to her family as her parents were originally from Hong Kong. But more importantly, being fresh out of the university, she thought Hong Kong, the world-famous cosmopolitan city, would provide her with more career opportunities.

She entered the financial industry and soon found that she needed to work with Chinese clients from time to time.

The Putonghua skill would help her build relationships with clients. She picked up a little Putonghua from her parents in childhood, but it was not enough.

To further enhance her ability, she studied in Lung’s language center three years ago. She made time from her busy schedule to keep one class every two weeks. She practiced Putonghua by speaking with her friends and colleagues in her spare time. She also tried to read more Chinese, such as menus and work documents in her daily life.

Regardless of individual differences and beliefs, language and communication are ways that help connect us as humans. I believe the better we’re able to communicate with each other, the better we’re able to connect – something that is becoming increasingly important in today’s world, she said, regarding Putonghua as a tool to connect the world.

The above interview was published on:
1:China Daily
2:Greater Bay Area Times
3:China Internet Platform

Jouralist: Oasis Hu

The source: Hong Kong Modern Language Centre, All rights reserved.