Thoughts about Mandarin - New language.
Are you going to study Mandarin aiming a future job? Do you think it is going to rule the world? Let's debate! ;)
I study International Relations and this is my language background:
Portuguese: native. English: advanced. (still learning) Spanish: advanced. (still learning) ??? I feel like starting learning my forth one. I started French but I am not enjoying it. Which one do you think I should take?
Political Science and International Relations is one of my majors. I'm multilingual too. Também sei falar português. :)
I think you should know at least a good amount of French since it's still respected as a diplomatic language. Besides that, learn some Latin, especially to be familiar with various terms.
I'd like to know some day much more than ni hao, shi, zhongguo, ren, nuren etc., but I wouldn't do that for a job. And I don't think Mandarin is going to rule the world.
I think English is going to remain the international language of the west, but I think Chinese will start to outdo it as an international language through Asia. I'm fluent and living in China right now. Honestly, you need to take whatever language comes from the culture you're most interested in diving into. Because personal interest will drive you much further no matter the language.
Here is how I feel about the whole learn Mandarin over other languages for job purposes thing.
First of all, the field I am studying doesn't require one be multilingual, though being multilingual never hurts in any circumstance. Now that that is out of the way...
Think about all of the Chinese who are learning English and all of the westerners who are now learning Mandarin. It's a number that is only going to continue to grow greatly on both sides. In 10 years, will knowing Mandarin help you stand out more than knowing a less studied, yet significant language? A language where the level of English knowledge about the native speaking population is even lower than that of the Chinese, so as to require your services even more.
Mandarin is awesome to know, but you can still learn smaller languages and be considered valuable. Don't ever feel like you absolutely have to learn Mandarin over other, smaller languages that you like more unless you will be dealing with a lot of Chinese or plan to live in a Mandarin speaking area. That is my take on it at least.
I saw a TV news story a few weeks back that mentioned 400 million people living in China do not speak Mandarin and there are also a very large number of Chinese learning English(I vaguely remember the 100 million figure). There are probably more people learning English as a second language in China than there non-Mandarin Chinese learning Mandarin. That leads me to believe that English will continue to grow importance.
Most of those people are either very rural or of the older generation. China is in a massive campaign to standardize the country's speech, meaning that almost anyone under the age of about 40-50 can speak both their native dialects and standard Mandarin fluently, and have no problem switching between them. People forget that in a country with over a billion people, a few hundred million doesn't create a norm.