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Why you should sign up for that Mandarin Chinese class immediately

It'll help you converse with leader of the world's next superpower better too. Source: Reuters/Madoka Ikegami/Pool

Being able to speak Mandarin is not only an added advantage to your career, but one that could bring a “significant” boost to it, a new survey among senior decision-makers in the UK has found.

More than three-quarters (77 percent) believe being fluent in Mandarin gives you an advantage over your counterparts, while more than a quarter (28 percent) believed it would be of “significant” advantage, according to a survey by the Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP).

Among those working for companies with annual turnovers of £10 million (US$14.2 million) or more, up to 31 percent said Mandarin would be significantly beneficial.

School standards minister, Nick Gibb, said:

“This research shows that young people fluent in Mandarin will be at a significant advantage when competing for jobs with their peers from around the world.

“That is why we introduced the Mandarin Excellence Programme, which is on track to have 5,000 pupils fluent in Mandarin by 2020. The enthusiasm and energy that both pupils and teachers are committing to this programme is inspiring, and will help Britain to compete in an increasingly global economy.”

Mandarin Chinese is now recognised as one of the most vital languages for the UK in the next 20 years, alongside four other languages in the top five: Spanish, French, Arabic and German. This is followed by Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese and Russian. These languages were chosen based on economic, geopolitical, cultural and educational factors.

A strong majority (82 percent) believe teaching in British schools “should reflect important potential growth markets for British trade and business”. However, two-thirds (66 percent) said recruiting fluent speakers from within the UK workforce is currently difficult.

More than 1,000 senior decision-makers from various sectors such as medicine, finance, manufacturing and construction, and from organisations small to large across the UK, were surveyed by the MEP. The MEP is a partnership between the UCL Institute of Education and the British Council.

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