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Learn Mandarin

Historically the British have always mastered communication with johnny foreigner by simply using English - but speaking a little slower and a little louder.

I'm not sure that will work with the new Chinese who now outnumber us by approximately 25 to one.

In just five years, the number of non-Chinese people learning Mandarin Chinese has soared to 30 million. What is fuelling this expansion, and will it change the status of English as a global language?

Shanghai-born lawyer Kailan Shu Lucas of Chinese Learning Centre organises lessons in Mandarin, the main Chinese language, for pupils in London - and she is very busy.

She now co-ordinates lessons for 12 London schools. She believes that in most cases, having their children study the language is a career calculation made by the parents.

"Parents nowadays think that in 10-20 years' time, when their children are in adulthood, China will be even bigger - and so learning Chinese will be a very helpful tool," she told BBC World Service's Analysis programme. "This will be a very useful, important language to learn."

[Most of those] parents are from the finance industry where China is "a big thing." "That influences the parents' thoughts," Kailan added. "They want their children to learn Chinese and be more versatile in terms of job prospects in the future."

The hope, presumably, is that if you can't beat them - you can at least join them.

You can make a start to learning Chinese here, with the BBC.

Link: BBC World.

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

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