Weiguo Zhang is a Professor of Economics in the Center for Economic Research at Shandong University, China and Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa (2010-2011) as well as the University of Texas at San Antonio (2017-2018). He is also the director of the Center for Language and Economic Research at Shandong University. His research interests include economic approaches to language, labor economics, economics of education, international trade, and development economics, with a special interest in issues that involve language variable.
Talk 1: The Trade Effect of English as a Lingua Franca (10:00 - 12:00)
This talk highlights the importance of language in international trade and the associated outcomes. To be specific, I will discuss recent literature on economic effects of language (focusing on language and trade studies), followed by suggestions of future research directions. Finally, I will illustrate the importance of language with my work on the trade effect of English as a lingua franca.
Talk 2: Linguistic Distance, Language Learners’ Mother Tongue, and Chinese Acquisition (13:30 - 15:30)
The mother tongue of language learners plays an important role in second language acquisition. From the perspective of language economics and by introducing the notion of linguistic distance, we estimate the impact of language learners’ mother tongue on Chinese acquisition as second language. We find that there is a negative correlation between linguistic distance and Chinese acquisition. Other things being equal, the closer linguistic distance between Chinese and learners’ mother tongue is the higher Chinese proficiency the learner acquires and vice versa. This effect also applies to listening, reading, and writing. Based on the results, the policy implication of linguistic distance study on Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages (TCSOL) as well as the dissemination of Chinese in the world is discussed.