Learning Chinese in Mexico: Children Prepare for the Future

Mexico is the latest country to offer Mandarin language classes to help its children get a competitive advantage in the business world. From the Los Angeles Times:

The sight of youngsters speaking Chinese in the Mexican heartland is unusual, to say the least. Parents told that pupils as young as 9 would be taught Mandarin had been skeptical. Wouldn’t French or Italian (Romance languages closer to Spanish) make more sense? some wondered.

Savvy Mexican politicians have other ideas. State authorities launched the pilot language program in Aguascalientes, a working-class city, in hopes of jumping on the Chinese bandwagon. As China swiftly expands its reach across Latin America, Mexico is experiencing a flurry of new Chinese investments in traditional targets like nickel mines and in newer areas like car-part factories and electronics.

For many years, Mexico had lagged behind other big Latin economies, like Brazil and Chile, which saw China displace the United States as their principal trading partner. China spent an estimated $100 billion in Latin America in 2008, but Mexico had only a small piece of it.