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

Education is often 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. 

Is learning Chinese an investment?

Learning Chinese occupies a tiny fraction of the entire education business. Nevertheless, it is in the same situation.

On one hand, it is considered as an important investment by many students, especially when learning Chinese is tied with China’s economic growth. Get a good job in an international Chinese company, or have the language skills to sell to the huge Chinese market.

On the other hand, this investment may not pay off. To be able to use Chinese professionally requires years of dedication that many people don’t have. 

Many people claim that learning Chinese and passing HSK test will land you a good job with good pay. It is often not true.

After memorising a long list of vocabularies related to business Chinese or finance Mandarin, what if they are useless in business dealings because deals are made at dinner parties?

Thinking learning Chinese as investment means that, ultimately, to prevent losing money, one can choose not to learn Chinese. 

These are the things students face when learning Chinese is evaluated as an investment. Comparing to the money, time and effort that learning Chinese requires, profits that it generates is probably minimal or none.

Benefits of learning Chinese

Chinese is a difficult language to learn and learning Chinese is a long term commitment. 

If considering learning Chinese as an investment, it may not be a very smart investment. Anyone who is using high investment returns to encourage people to learn Chinese is not being truthful.

For anyone who is learning Chinese, it is better to find other benefits. 

Here I propose two. They are priceless.

  • Become more aware of yourself

Chinese brings a force to all of Chinese language learners. 

Regardless you’re a beginner or an advanced student, whether you’re teaching yourself or following a teacher, whatever your approach is, you’ll find that Chinese is a different language and it carries many fascinating stories and captivating elements that make you know more about yourself, what you can or can not do, and what impossible things can become possible. 

  • Take control of yourself 

Many people are constantly in fear, fear of missing out, fear of not finding happiness, fear of not getting ahead, and fear of all sorts of fear. 

Most of the fears are noise in our heads and they are caused by our social environment.

One way to drive away this fear is to keep yourself busy, to ask yourself working on something that will never end. Learning Chinese is such a task. 

Learning Chinese can bring a kind of peace to students, suppress the unnecessary fears, and help them take control of their lives.


April Zhang
Chinese Teacher
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