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Can you really learn Chinese?

Politicians are urging children to learn the language—but they don’t know how hard it is

By Jonathan Mirsky   April 2014

After more than two years of studying Chinese at Columbia, says Mirsky, “I could say almost nothing.” ©John Downing/Rex

Just before leaving China in December last year, David Cameron set British children a daunting task: “I want Britain linked up to the world’s fast-growing economies. And that includes our young people learning the languages to seal tomorrow’s business deals… China is set to be the world’s largest economy. So it’s time to look beyond the traditional focus on French and German and get…

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