It was only when a Chinese-language translation of the UK’s national anthem became the most widely used in the country that people started to question whether the country was destined for the same fate.
“I think we are already there,” says David Sayers, founder of The Language Lab, a non-profit organisation which aims to teach Chinese to students of the language.
“There’s a lot of language schools in the UK, and I’ve got an idea to take that one and do a full-fledged language school for every adult in the nation.”
It’s not just for children.
In the US, the Department of Education has a website with information about language schools.
“If you’re a kid in America, it’s a really good idea to go to a language school,” says Diane M. Riddle, assistant secretary for education.
“Language schools are going to help them learn, they’re going to build confidence and they’re really going to give you the experience that they need.”
Sayers says the real challenge is getting the Chinese-speaking population to speak the language, but he believes it’s possible.
“The Chinese language has been around for quite a long time,” he says.
“In the west, it is not an obvious language.
There are a lot more people who have Chinese as their first language.
And when we look at the demographics of China, it would be a very big challenge to change that.”
It’s still a relatively young language, and there are many Chinese in the US and other parts of the world, and they are going from one generation to the next.
So if we’re going, ‘OK, now you need to change the demographics’, then we need to make sure that it is changing, so it’s not a generational thing.
“So if we can do that, then we can get the Chinese people to speak Chinese.”
The Language Lab’s website features a list of languages spoken by more than 40 million people in the United States.
It’s easy to understand what makes a language so special: “In Chinese, ‘yang’ means ‘water’, ‘china’ means China, ‘yuan’ means money and ‘yang shu’ means heaven.”
The list includes Mandarin, the language spoken in Beijing, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Vietnamese-inflected Chinese.
There’s also Cantonese and French.
“We’ve spoken to a lot people in Hong Kong who can speak Cantonesa, which is very easy,” Sayers says.
The team at The Language Labs also has Mandarin-speaking students in Singapore and Malaysia, as can be seen on its website.
It’s an approach that has worked for the team at the Language Lab.
The students are bilingual in Mandarin, which they learn at home.
“The students do not speak any other language, they speak Chinese,” Sayer says.
Sayers and his team also have a strong interest in cultural heritage, which has allowed them to create a curriculum around the language that has been taught to many students since it was first developed in the late 1980s.
The Language Labs’ curriculum has a lot to do with what Sayers describes as “Chinese culture”.
“In China, the emphasis is on the importance of the family, the importance and dignity of the mother, the role of women in society, and the importance that the child should be nurtured, especially in the face of challenges,” he explains.
“It’s really about family and community.
The children are taught the importance in terms of how to live together in a family and how to love and care for each other.”
The language school has been a success for the students, but there are still some learning challenges.
Sayer explains that the language in China is very difficult to learn, but also very accessible.
“So it is very accessible for a lot, and if you have a very basic knowledge of Chinese, then you can learn it.
You don’t have to understand every word in every sentence, but it’s very easy to pick up the language.”
The team has been able to translate the anthem of the United Kingdom to Mandarin, with a student translating the song ‘The Sun and the Moon’ from English.
However, Sayers admits the process has been challenging.
“I don’t think the students can sing the anthem, but I can translate the lyrics.
I know what it is, and it’s really good.”
In 2016, Sayer and his colleagues at the language lab also started teaching English to students from the Philippines, one of the biggest countries in the region.
Sowers says he’s now able to get students to read books and learn vocabulary from Filipino teachers, which are then translated into Mandarin.
“We were able to do the whole of the Philippines with English, but that wasn’t an option for the Chinese children.
So the teachers would have to teach