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I often read Coding Horror and Stackoverflow, and I just saw this post from Jeff Atwood on English as the lingua franca for coders.

Having worked with tech-heads from India and China as well, I would say that English is without a doubt the common tongue for technology today. Further, being bi- or multi-lingual often turns out to be a great advantage over the monolinguals.

But who's to say what will happen in 10 years' time, when the nexus of technology shifts from Silicon Valley and the global economy becomes less US-centric? I was also an English teacher in a former life, before I was a coder, as well as a Japanese language/culture student, so I know that being able to grok more than one language besides English is a good thing...

I wonder: Is this a good time for me to start learning Mandarin then?

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Most Chinese developers I know speak, or at least can read and write English. This is because they read programming books in English.
I recently was wearing the hat of "bridge systems engineer", meaning that I was overseeing a small team of Chinese developers in Shenyang. Bridging the (considerable) gap between Japan and China. I learned that in general, schools and universities will offer a choice of foreign languages: English and Japanese.

The team I was working with could read and write/speak Japanese to a certain extent, but English was out of the question as this team was made of members that chose Japanese as their foreign language focus.

Quite different from the Chinese people I met in Silicon Valley.

That made things quite difficult, as we were using Java/Hibernate for our data access layer, and (at least several months ago), practically all of the documentation/info on Hibernate was all in English. Japanese info on Hibernate was scarce, forget about in Chinese. Now, I reckon that things are better. But you get the picture.

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