I just read an article about Chinese learners in Germany. The weekly magazin “Der Spiegel” seems to have some numbers. A good moment to answer the question “How many Chinese learners are there in Germany?”
First, let’s look at the key points of the article “Kaum ein Schüler lernt Chinesisch”, which loosely translates to “Only very few school kids learn Chinese”. Here are the main points:
- At German public schools, in the academic year 2010/11, Aproximately 5570 school kids at 226 schools learnd Chinese. Either as part of the regular curriculum, or in voluntary after class lectures. The exact number is expected to be higher, because just about 50% of the schools with a Chinese program returned the questionnaire.
- In the academic year 2007/08 the number was at 3200.
- In an unspecified year, probably last year, 7,500,000 school kids learned English, 1,700,000 learned French, 56,000 learned Italian.
Interesting numbers. Let’s find out a bit more. Germany, Switzerland and Austria combined have about 5000 students of Chinese at the university level. Finally we have evening schools, independent students and others learning the language outside of school or university, for example myself. I couldn’t find any statistical numbers for this group, however I think there are not that many. When I was in evening school learning Chinese, there were rarely more than 10 students at my level in a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants. Given these numbers, I’d say less than 20,000 people in Germany are actively learning Chinese at this moment. How many of them will learn until they are fluent? I don’t know, but the number could be much less.
That being said, I think it might pay off eventually to keep on learning Chinese. I just checked monster.com. There are a lot of jobs posted with “Chinese nice to have”. But there are also a few jobs labeled “fluent Chinese and German required”. So far I have met few Chinese persons who are fluent in German.
In conclusion: Awesome!