English Mania

Ladies and gentlemen, let's talk about manias. Beatlemania.

Hysterical teenagers crying, screaming. Pandemonium!

Sports mania. Deafening crowds…whole nations obsessed for one reason: Get the ball in the net. -Goal!

Religious mania. Rapture. Weeping. Visions. Manias can be good; manias can be alarming. Or manias can be deadly.

Our world has a new mania. A mania for learning English. Listen as Chinese students practice their English by screaming it.

I want to change my life! -I want to change my life!

I don't want to let my parents down! -I don't want to let my parents down!

I don't ever want to let my country down! -I don't ever want to let my country down!

Most importantly… -Most importantly…

I don't want to let myself down! -…I don't want to let myself down!

How many people are trying to learn English? Two billion of them. -A hat. A t-shirt. A dress.

In Latin America, India, Southeast Asia, but most of all, China. If you're Chinese, you start in the third grade. By law.

That's why this year, China will become the world's largest English-speaking country.

Why English? In a word, opportunity. English equals opportunity. A better life. A good job.

Being able to pay for school, and better food on the table.

Imagine a student taking a giant test for three full days. Her score on this one test literally determines her future.

She studies 12 hours a day for 3 years to prepare. Twenty-five percent of her grade is based on English.

It's called the gaokao. Eighty million high school kids across China have taken this grueling test.

The intensity to learn English is almost unimaginable until you witness it.

Perfect! -Perfect! -Perfect! -Perfect!

Perfect! -Perfect! -I want to speak perfect English! -I want to speak perfect English!

I want to speak… -I want to speak… -…perfect English! -…perfect English!

I want to change my life! -I want to change my life!

So is English Mania good, or bad? Is English a tsunami washing away other languages?

Not likely. English is the world's second language. Your native language is your life.

But with English, you can be part of a wider conversation – a global conversation about global problems.

Like climate change. Poverty. Hunger. And disease. The world has other universal languages.

Mathematics is the language of science. Music, the language of emotions.

And now, English is becoming the language of problem-solving.

Not because America is pushing it; because the world is pulling it.

So English Mania is a turning point, like the harnessing of electricity to light our cities, or the fall of the Berlin Wall.

English represents hope for a better future. A future where the world has a common language to solve its common problems. Thank you.

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