Whatever specific goal motivated people who study Chinese at first eventually dissolves into the larger Chinese world, and that world—its loves and joys, its stings and frustrations, in any case its incapability of being boring—takes over.
This book collects essays from native speakers of English who studied Chinese, learned it unusually well, and then used it in very successful careers in journalism, business, government work, and academe. Many of essays show that answers to the question of “what difference is made?” can have a charming unpredictability. The ten essays converge on some important points: that speaking Chinese leads much more quickly to deeper trust with Chinese people than can be had through speaking English or by using translation; that thinking “inside” the Chinese language in some ways offers different ways to understand the world. This book is unique in the language-teaching field. It can also be an eye-opener for a general reader who believes that learning a second language is a simple matter of switching codes and does not realize how life-changing the embrace of a different language can be.
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