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

Education is often considered an investment. This is what economists have taught us with their human capital theory. Their assumptions that humans are only interested in maximising their returns are now virtually hegemonic.


With their limited data, economists teach us that education was a sure way for a better paycheque, a higher living standard and more opportunities. 

This was true for a period of time since the World War Two. But things have changed. 

Education has become another type of investments that carry risks. And like all other investments, education may lose money and never bring home that higher paycheque. 

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 only limited to laws, medicines, maths and engineerings. But even these graduates have to face harsh realities when things begin to slowdown. Think about the layoffs in Facebook, Google and Amazon in 2022-2023. 

That is the big picture of today’s education system. Learning Chinese occupies a tiny fraction of the entire education businesses.

Nonetheless, many people believe that learning Chinese is an investment.  

Learning Chinese is often tied with China’s economic growth. Good Chinese skills lead to good jobs in an international firm, or to be able to sell products and services to the huge Chinese market. 

Once it is related to money, hustlers will show up. They’ll tell you anything you want to hear.

“Passing HSK6 will land you a good job with good pay.”

“Learn Chinese and you can make millions by selling into the Chinese market.”

In case you don’t know what HSK is, read here: 7 things you should know about the new HSK test.

But nobody can say clearly what kind of high paying jobs reserved for people who have Chinese language skills. 

ChatGPT has demonstrated that many jobs for knowledge workers will disappear. 

Even if there are still opportunities for high paying jobs for people with Chinese skills, these returns will be the hardest to get.

Learning Chinese takes a long time. To be able to use Chinese professionally requires 6-10 years of dedication and hard work. Many students just could not persevere that long.

Thinking learning Chinese as investment will lead to frustration, simply because there is a lack of monetary return. 

Even if there is some, compared to the money, time and effort that you spend on learning Chinese, returns that you’ll get is minimal or none. 

Learning Chinese is not a good investment. It is best considered a lifestyle commitment. The benefits are not monetary:

  • 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. 

  • 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 focused on something you love, 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.

These are priceless life hacks. But you’ll have to discard the idea that learning Chinese is an investment. 

If you happen to use your Chinese and generate some monetary returns, welcome it as a wonderful side effect.