Hey julz, thanks for starting a dedicated thread on this. The original FB post is below, for those interested in seeing the original vid, and all the FB comments etc: Redirecting...
Personally, from a cultural perspective, I think this is really interesting. The more China-West bridges that are open, rather than not, the better. This may, also, likely spur an interest in learning languages generally, particularly in the US.
Some of the comments on the FB page:
“I can’t understand a thing but I can’t stop watching. So impressive. Makes me want to pick up another language!”
“This video will inspire thousands of young Americans and others across the globe to learn another language. No money can buy what you acquired thru study and very hard work to learn a very difficult but most important language. Leadership and Inspiration! Thanks for sharing.”
By opening with his motivations for learning Mandarin; wife, in-laws, cultural learning and challenge – he is ticking a lot of boxes, particularly from a Chinese perspective. Moving then onto the Huo Yuanjia / Tianjin trip also really sets him up well, for the local audience, I think.
I am not sure which Huo Yuanjia movie he is referring to. Does anyone know? I’m guessing, Fearless? I think that comment is great, and also textbook language learning 101, find something you are interested in, and then expand and develop on it in that language.
From a business perspective he is clearly (and necessarily) across potential Chinese alliances and competitors – including mentioning having dinner with Lei Jun, and his comments on Xiaomi, Lenovo, Weixin, Taobao, etc. Being in Beijing and dining with the likes of Lei Jun is exactly what more western technology CEOs need to be doing. Did Tim Cook meet with Lei Jun when he was in BJ. Maybe, who knows?
It is also amazing how relaxed he is. You rarely see him like this in English discussions. This kind of reconfirms (for me, at least) the sociology view that you don’t have a core persona, but rather personas for different stages / people, and languages can help you move between these stages.
I guess people may comment on his language skills, but I don’t think this is the interesting bit. His level is what you would expect from someone who is very, very part time and studied for only a few years. He also, reportedly, uses Benny-like methods, so he is a mixed bag – his ability to make small chat is better than his listening, his vocab is surprisingly good, but his tones are perhaps not the best.
I was reminded of Julien Gaudfroy’s comment on learning Mandarin – “Some people believe talking a lot is key. Can be true, but don’t forget that talking a lot means repeating your own mistakes all the time! Then it becomes harder and harder to get rid of them. Talking a lot works only if you pay a lot of attention to listening all the time and always assume that you’re still missing something.”
But, good on him for putting in the effort to get this far. China, and Chinese culture, is something the world can’t really ignore.
My favourite bit of the talk:
Host: Next question, between you and your wife, who has the better Chinese?
Zuckerberg: Using Chinese, I can speak a lot more words, but my wife’s listening ability is much better than mine. One day, I asked her, “why is my (Chinese) listening ability so bad”? She said, “your English listening ability is also terrible”.