I don't know why.
Maybe our central administrators, neither of whom is particularly interested in academics (the super cares about fields; the curriculum director is "passionate" about technology) decided the ruckus that would ensue when they swapped out French for Rosetta-Stone Chinese wasn't worth the trouble.
Or maybe they just haven't gotten around to it yet.
In any event, I've just come across a terrific article on English v. Chinese as lingua franca:
English is becoming a global lingua franca not just for trade, industry, aviation, research, and entertainment, but also for higher education. We scarcely needed the conclusions of a new research report by the department of education at the University of Oxford in collaboration with the British Council, released Wednesday, to tell us that.And here is Victor Mair, writing at Language Log:
Ph.D. students in countries like Finland or the Netherlands have (at least in my field) long been writing their dissertations in English rather than in Finnish or Dutch. But at undergraduate as well as graduate and professional levels, more and more non-English-speaking countries are making the decision to use what they are calling English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI).
Nothing about the dialect of the southern region of the island of Great Britain makes it especially suited to a global role. In fact, choosing English, with its maddeningly stupid spelling quirks (Finnish has none), and its nearly 200 irregular verbs (Swahili has none), and its phonology replete with brutally complex consonant clusters (Hawaiian has none), looks like a choice made by a committee of idiots.
But it was not. Accidents of history conspired to determine the present status of English.
Which language was spoken by the people who managed to gain lasting political control in North America and Australasia, and had temporary political dominance in all of southern Asia and most of eastern, western, and southern Africa?
Which language is spoken in the one place on earth where blockbuster movies for worldwide release are made on budgets running into the hundreds of millions of dollars?
Which is the main language used by the closest to approach Radio Earth, namely the BBC World Service?
Which is the only language used officially for government purposes in more than 60 countries?
Which has been chosen as the norm for all air-traffic control conversations?
A long succession of such accidents has put English so far in the race for dominance in global communication that it can hardly even be called a race now.
Some people talk as if Mandarin Chinese was gaining on English. It is not, and it never will. A Tamil-speaking computer scientist explaining an algorithm to a Hungarian scientist at a Japanese-organized scientific meeting in Thailand calls on English, not Chinese. Nowhere in the world do we find significant numbers of non-Chinese speakers choosing Mandarin as the medium for bridging language gaps. There are no signs of that changing.
The burgeoning of English is pushing ever-larger numbers of small minority languages into extinction, and many linguists lament that. There are two sides to the issue, though. It saddens us linguists that so many grammatically fascinating and diverse languages in so many language families should be dying out, yet who are we to tell an African father, proud of raising his children to speak a multinational lingua franca like Swahili or English, rather than the local dialect of his traditional village, that he is wrong?
Personally, I would never have proposed making English a global language for education or anything else, and I think my life has been rendered poorer by the fact that because I speak English natively I have never been forced by circumstances to develop real fluency in a foreign language. But nobody placed me on the committee to decide on the global language for education. There was no committee.
As to why Mandarin is very unlikely ever to displace English as the world language, it's the writing system, my friends.Actually, I've heard exactly the opposite.
"Chineasy? Not" "Chinese characters are not easy, neither for Chinese nor for non-Chinese. Chinese characters are hard."]
Now, if ever a true digraphia were to develop in China, Mandarin might have a fighting chance.
"Character amnesia and the emergence of digraphia" (see also here and here).
But I doubt that will ever happen. It seems that most Chinese people would sooner learn English than use Romanization to write Mandarin.
A year ago, I talked to a high school graduate who had just spent a year in China.
He told me smartphones are causing the Chinese to switch to the Romanization system the phones use. Just because it's there, on the phone, and they use it all the time.
Is that true?
Does anyone know?