Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

Asia Knowledge Ministry of Education

Home navigation

Why learn Chinese?

"Languages are inseparably linked to the social and cultural contexts in which they are used. Languages and cultures play a key role in developing our personal, group, national, and human identities."

– Learning languages | Chinese

New Zealanders involved in teaching, learning, and using Chinese gave these reasons why students should learn Chinese.

More people speak Chinese than they do English

  • Mandarin Chinese is the most widely-spoken language in the world.
  • The number of people in the world learning Chinese is on the increase.
  • It’s estimated one out of every six people on earth speak Chinese; from China, Taiwan and Singapore to South East Asia, North America, and Europe.

By learning Chinese, our students will be able to communicate with more people, more effectively. Alongside that, Chinese is likely to become increasingly useful for online communication.


"You should learn Mandarin so you can communicate with the majority of the world. Once you can do it, doors will open because people will appreciate the time and care you have taken to learn their language and culture."

 – Deborah Rattray, Facilitator, Chinese Language Foundation

China is the world’s fastest growing economy

China is considered to become the biggest global market in the 21st century.

China is one of New Zealand’s most important trading partners. Following the signing of the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement, two-way trade increased by 23% to reach just over $10 billion.

There will be business and trade opportunities for people fluent in Chinese; and Chinese speakers will likely find it easier to develop all-important relationships in business.

Learning Chinese can increase employment prospects

Many New Zealand organisations have active links and relationships with China; this is likely to increase over time. Proficient speakers of Chinese will find job opportunities in a variety of fields, such as: business, tourism, government, education, and translation. The demand for teachers who can speak Chinese is on the increase.

Language opens the door to culture

By learning Chinese, students can:

  • bridge cultural differences
  • engage with Chinese communities in New Zealand
  • gain unique insights into the culture of one of the world’s oldest civilizations.

"Culture and language are really interlinked; if you don't speak the language you can't understand the culture. Learning Chinese for me has been an eye opening experience because I have been able to understand so much more about my own culture (Kiwi and Chinese). I have opportunities now to speak it every day if I want to, and I can move and talk amongst different communities.”

– Raewyn Ho, Facilitator, Chinese Language Foundation 

Future-proof yourself

In New Zealand, the number of school students learning Chinese increased 93% in the five years between 2004 and 2009.

As China becomes an increasingly important player on the global stage, so too will the importance of Chinese.


"Learning Mandarin is fast becoming a fundamental skill for children living on the Pacific Rim. New Zealand graduates are not just competing with other New Zealand graduates, they’re competing with people from all around the world. China is huge and our business is growing there. We have to be able to be able to operate effectively in the Chinese environment.”

 – Gillian Eadie, General Manager, Confucius Institute, May 2009 – May 2013

Return to top

Site map