Editorial: Mandarin, Japanese should be made available as majors

The business world is changing but, for some reason, the business of Baylor is not.

Despite the fact that Mandarin and Japanese are arguably the two most important languages for business people to know, Baylor does not offer them as majors. That needs to change.

China has the second largest economy in the world according to the CIA’s World Factbook and saw a 10 percent increase in gross domestic product between 2009 and 2010.

Baylor students cannot currently major in China’s official language Mandarin.

Right behind China in gross domestic product is Japan, a country of approximately 126.4 million people.

Baylor students cannot major in Japanese, either.

If you want to major in a foreign language at Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, you can major in Spanish, French, Russian and German. You can also major in Greek, Latin, Classics and Biblical & Related Languages. Doesn’t it seem odd that you cannot major in a language that literally billions of people speak every day and yet you can major in languages that are spoken by few, if any, communities?

This is not to disparage these other majors being offered — there are legitimate and wonderful scholarly opportunities available to those who pursue these languages — but more to point out that the studies of these languages would be nicely complemented by the study of more modern ones.

At the Hankamer School of Business, students can major in Business Spanish, French, German and Russian. Despite the fact that Asia grows more important to businesses every day, there are no Asian languages offered as majors.

Baylor already has three instructors for Chinese and two for Japanese. The amount of additional faculty the university would need to hire to create new majors exclusively for these languages would likely be minimal. Baylor already offers majors that incorporate Asian languages in the curriculum, such as our Language & Linguistics major and our Asian Studies major, so why not offer a major that focuses on the languages exclusively?

Many of these students, as well as business students and others looking toward international work, would likely be interested in double majoring in their current major and Mandarin or Japanese. Such majors would set these students apart from others in an increasingly competitive job market.

Students with the ability to speak Mandarin or Japanese in this globalized world are more and more valuable each day, so it seems obvious that this is an area for expansion. Baylor has done a terrific job in beginning to offer courses in these areas, but it is not yet finished with its work.

We would like to call upon the university to create Mandarin and Japanese majors for both the College of Arts and Sciences and for the Hankamer School of Business. Looking toward the future and keeping an eye on even more language options would be prudent, but Mandarin and Japanese seem like an obvious enough first step.

The business world is changing and being able to understand what others are saying seems like a necessity to face this new world.