Are we linguistically prepared for Beijing 2008?

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The UK and China may not be ready to break the language barriers in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

According to Ethnologue data, Mandarin is spoken by more than a billion people worldwide, compared to an estimated 600 million users of English, and while English business transactions still account for 28 per cent of the world’s GDP, Mandarin is fast becoming a serious contender at 23 per cent.

Peggy Lohmann, spokeswoman for Rosetta Stone, the world’s leading language learning software, commented: “With the 2008 Olympic Games looming large on the horizon and with the influx of visitors this will bring to China, it is vital to consider the implications. Despite the common assumption that English is spoken everywhere, it is still notoriously difficult to get by in China without even a basic grasp of Mandarin.”

Read more: Beijing 2008 

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