What if the investment made into Chinese classes does not pay off?

Education is now considered an investment. Once it is an investment, it is judged by whether or not this investment can generate good returns. And all investments carry risks of generating no or very little returns. 

For students, education is supposed to be an investment with high returns, a better paycheque, a higher living standard, and more opportunities. But sometimes the contrary is true.

Studies have shown that college graduates who studied Humanities actually earn a smaller paycheque than high school graduates. Job opportunities for Doctorate Degree holders in Humanities are scarce. Good investments are limited to laws, medicines, maths and engineerings. That is the reason that these majors demand a higher tuition fee. 

Students are not the only ones who have to calculate their risks.

In the summer of 2021, the whole world was shocked to learn that Chinese government effectively banned online and offline after school tutoring companies, which were accused of creating anxiety, selling anxiety, and exploiting students and parents. These tutoring companies had raised millions of dollars from outside professional investors. Consequently, after the ban, they suffered huge losses. It turned out that education can be a risky business for professional inventors as well.

Learning Chinese occupies a tiny fraction of the entire education business. Nevertheless, it is also considered by many as an important investment with high returns, a good job in a major Chinese company, closing deals with Chinese investors, and so on.

What if, this investment does not pay off?

Many people claim that learning Chinese and passing HSK test will land you a good job with good pay. What if this is not true, or at least not for you?

After memorising a long list of vocabularies related to business Chinese or finance Mandarin, do you think these vocabularies guarantee that you will close that deal with a Chinese counterpart?

The worst of all scenario is that, what if you have never had a chance, or probably will never have a chance to use Chinese outside of your classroom? No chance to use your Chinese skills to make money at all.

On the other hand, if you don’t invest anything in Chinese classes, you’ll lose nothing. 

Does it really hurt if you don’t speak any Chinese? There are millions of Chinese who can speak English, much better than you can speak Chinese, after all. 

These are the questions we have to face if learning Chinese is evaluated as an investment. Potential losses and estimated profits must be calculated. 

When all things considered, comparing to the money, time and effort that learning Chinese requires, profits that it generates is probably minimal or none.

The conclusion is, if considering learning Chinese as an investment, this is not a very smart investment. Therefore, anyone who is using high investment returns to encourage people to learn Chinese is not being truthful.

Fortunately, we don’t have to think everything in monetary terms. Learning, not only Chinese, but learning in general, is an experience money can not accurately describe. 

Learning Chinese, in particular, is an ultimately satisfying, stimulating and rewarding experience, which gives students a chance to be self-disciplined, to know themselves better, to accept differences, and to be creative.

Thinking learning Chinese as an investment will obliterate all these benefits.


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April Zhang
Chinese Teacher
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