Right now, hundreds of millions of people all around China are experiencing a revolution. Their lives are changing faster than a teenager out of a prom tux, and it’s all because the rest of the world has gotten smaller. Once a society consistent with the pre-industrial world of wooden wheelbarrows and the coal oven, China is now a hybrid of these relics and modern automobiles and skyscrapers.
Because these things are so new, young people are experiencing a lifestyle unfamiliar even to people their own age. Now in China young people are seeing for the first time that their country is a part of the world which they cannot function separately from, and so they are learning to work outside of China’s borders. Chinese students are therefore placing new importance on learning foreign culture. Because they are the first generation of people to seek knowledge of the outside world, no one within their country is qualified to teach them these things. This means they need foreign teachers, and plenty of them.
Language is culture. This is why China specifically needs English teachers. English is the native language in the UK, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Nigeria to name a few places. Not only that, it is the most common second language on earth as well. When a Swedish tourist visits Italy they don’t speak Swedish or Italian to each other. They speak English. Having that language as a tool at your disposal makes you able to communicate with the majority of people on earth. Also, because 1/5 of people here on earth are Chinese, it is no doubt important to speak Mandarin as well. Needless to say, for a person living in a country whose economy is about to surmount that of all English speaking countries it would be an immense asset to be able to conduct business in Chinese and English with so many people; One that would give a distinct career advantage over millions and millions of others.
Teaching Chinese people about foreign cultures is as important to the rest of the world as it is to them. The country’s triumph in the global market is inevitable. They are a slumbering giant. The best thing the rest of the world can do at this time is create an awareness of itself as something other than an ostensible part of that country. Right now when a group of Chinese tourists visits another country they will point somebody out on the street, and say to each other, “Look at the foreigner!” Even though they are in fact the foreigners at that time, they consider us the outsiders. What they see the rest of us as depends on what we teach them about ourselves right now. In the future either China will be part of the world, or the world will be part of China. It’s up to all of us.