Mandarin v English
I came across an interesting article about the relative importance of Mandarin and English in South East Asia today. It talks about children from Malaysia being sent to school in Singapore because their parents want them to be fluent in English – schools in Malaysia teach in Malay, while those in Singapore teach in English. The parents believe that the standard of English used in Malaysia has declined significantly since the 1980s, when Malay had become the main language used in Malay schools, and they think the fluency in English is important for the children’s future.
Meanwhile in Singapore Mandarin is becoming increasingly important as more and more business is done with China. However English remains an important language. The article suggests that while both Mandarin and English are useful, English is a dominant position in terms of culture (music, movies, etc).
In Vietnam there is apparently a resistance to learning Mandarin and many people prefer to learn English and do business with the USA.