Club Promotes Chines Language and Culture

Angela Tam

What does a former U.S. president, the co-founder of Facebook, a former prime minister of Australia, a Golden Globe winner, and Ariana Chin, a student at Lakeridge high, all have in common with each other? They have all learned, or are now continuing to learn Chinese, the native tongue of over one billion people in the world. Chinese club at our own high school will hold its first meeting on Oct. 22, beginning its mission this year to promote both the Chinese culture and language as well.


“It is really fun,” said Ariana Chin, one of the public relations coordinators. “We go out to eat Chinese food as a group and hold tea-master meetings as well. We also go on field trips to learn more about the Chinese culture. Sometimes, we even play mahjong at the club meetings. The best part is that you don’t have to be Chinese or even take the class to be a part of the club. It is a great time to socialize and meet new people that share the same interests as you.”


China itself has great economical strength to support the millions of people living in its borders. Apart from being strong economically, China is also now the leading manufacturer of goods in the world. Many of U.S. goods such as vehicles, medical equipment, footwear, and clothing are all imported from China. According to the Asia Society, “The rise of China presents new economic, political and social realities that demand greater U.S. engagement at every level. As the foundation of that engagement, we urgently need to raise the number of Americans who can demonstrate a functional proficiency in Chinese.”

The Chinese language is, in fact, more difficult than most other languages since the system is comprised of 50,000 characters. Though only 20,000 of those are ever used, the number for memorizing characters may seem daunting to those unfamiliar to the language. If someone were to pick up a Chinese newspaper, they would only need to know about roughly 2,000 characters, only a quarter of the total amount in the Chinese character system. However, one must also keep in mind that there are also two systems of writing characters: simplified and traditional.

“Personally, I think it’s important to learn the traditional Chinese system because it’s how the words should be,” said Vinny Chin, an immigrant from Hong Kong. “To me, I always think that the simplified system is more like acronyms. It’s not formal enough.”

Another important feature of Chinese is the fact that the language also has many dialects, depending on where someone lives, though the main and widely-known dialect is Mandarin. Mandarin Chinese is spoken by the vast majority of Chinese citizens, and is understood by even more people.

“I think there are over 200 Chinese dialects out there and I believe many are very similar,” said Vinny Chin. “For example, my mother’s village dialect is very similar to my mother-in-law’s village dialect.  The two women are from similar areas of China but different places.  However,  there are words that are completely different in both of their dialects.”
Though learning Chinese may be a hassle and sometimes may even feel impossible to learn, keep in mind that many people have studied the language and are fluent in Mandarin Chinese.