The number of actual Chinese learners around the world, and in the USA, is widely misreported and largely unknown. I keep reading articles that quote 30 million learners. I’m really not sure where all of these learners are, unless someone made a mistake and confused Taiwan with Thailand and so counted 6 million public school children and another 1.5 million university students.
I recently came upon an article in the Straits Times that offers some insight into the numbers for the USA.
Here’s the link: More Learning Chinese in the US
51,000 university students are studying Chinese.
250,000 to 300,000 elementary school students are studying Chinese, but many of these are enrolled in weekend schools for children of overseas Chinese living in the States.
Hardly the vast hordes predicted in the media!
And…another repeat of my position on the learning Mandarin craze:
The craze itself is overblown, largely a media creation, and will die down at some point in the not too distant future. As for individuals who want to learn Chinese, my advice is simple: You had better have a very, very good reason to learn Chinese, or it isn’t going to happen. Chinese isn’t like Spanish, French, German, or even Japanese. It’s a very, very difficult language to learn well.
However, if you do in fact have a good reason to learn, one so good that there’s no turning back, then dig in and learn your little heart out. Uncle True will be here to help you if you need it.