Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Why Study?

I've been asked a rather unusual question lately--three times in the last week.

I inquired about taking the HSK exam later this year (this is the government-approved proficiency test for foreigners speaking/writing/reading Chinese). I was told that the next exam would be held in about a week--much too soon for me to prepare. I was then told that the school offered another Chinese proficiency exam, similar to HSK, every month. This means that I will attempt to pass the first level by the end of the school year.

Just after hearing the news, my boss asked, "Why do you want to learn Chinese?" I thought this was unusual coming from my Chinese boss. I explained my reasons and let the discussion pass to other topics. Then yesterday, I was asked the same question by one of the office staff at the end of our weekly meeting. I was again asked by a Korean professor later in the day.

The most confusing part of this question is that they all know I've been living in China for more than two years and that my wife is Chinese. Naturally, I'd think that those two reasons would be enough for anyone to want to learn the language.

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