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Some Learn Mandarin to Do Business in China

The international language of business is English. But a growing number of American companies, that do business in China, are having their workers learn Mandarin. Michael Cheng is a Taiwanese-American Internet entrepreneur and property developer. He is also in the business of teaching Chinese.

Michael Cheng is president and founder of the Mando Mandarin Online School. The school is based in New York and uses teachers in China to teach over webcams.

Michael Cheng says China is now the world's second-largest economy. He says it makes sense to engage people in their own language and to understand their culture. He says that goes a long way in building strong relationships, especially with the Chinese.

Michael Cheng says that as China's economic power has increased, so has its cultural power.He says, starting in 2004, the Chinese Ministry of Education and the Chinese Language Council began to set up Confucius Institutes around the world.

The purpose was to promote and develop Chinese language and culture teaching around the world. Now, he says, there are more than 300 Confucius Institutes in almost 100 countries. These institutes work to promote Chinese language at the university-level.

The Chinese government has partnered with colleges and the Asia Society to set up programs across the United States. High schools have also received money to start Chinese language training programs.

Michael Cheng says many English speakers want to learn Mandarin and many people in China want to learn English. He adds that taking the time to learn someone else's language is a sign of respect and a way to build business relationships.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 02Nov2012)