Ken Carroll wants to change your world. 

He wants you to learn Chinese, and he is going to teach you for free. 

If you are from the Republic of Ireland, that is.

Carroll is the co-founder of ChinesePod and the brains behind the “Learn Chinese in Ireland” campaign, which launches tomorrow. The Dublin native has lived in Shanghai for 15 years and is extending free subscriptions to people in Ireland right up to when Shanghai hosts the World Trade Expo in 2010.

ChinesePod is a series of 10-minute podcast lessons in Mandarin Chinese that is broadcast from the company’s studios in Shanghai. Users can download the podcasts on to iPpods, iPhones and MP3 players. The language program will be free until May 1, 2010, “no catches, no obligations,” says the Web site, which has 250,000 users worldwide.

“I think there are hundreds of reasons to learn Chinese,”’ says Carroll. “I think you have to be here, I think you have to visit China or to experience it to see the sheer scale of what has happened in China in the last 20 or 30 years.

“At the population level we are talking about 1.3 billion people, but also the changes that are happening; the development of the economy; the massive movement that when you are here and you see it is really clear. China is going to play a very prominent role globally.”

Now the third largest economy in the world, the Chinese are now a major trade power. The country will host the 2010 World Trade Expo in Shanghai, another reason that Carroll thinks Irish people will get ahead of the curve by learning the language now.

“It is possible for anyone to learn some Chinese," says Carroll. “Chinese at the spoken level is no more difficult than any other language to speak”

Carroll goes on to say that people in Ireland in Ireland won’t necessarily become fluent, but could easily get to grips with spoken Chinese but using ChinesePod. The ex-pat also stressed that the podcasts will focus as much on Chinese culture it will on the language.

The entrepreneur has got the thumbs up from, among others, the Irish Ambassador to China, Mr. Declan Kelleher

“I have to say that I found ChinesePod extremely useful and a great stimulus to this. I think that you and your colleagues Ken should take a bow on this because you have certainly got a convert to the great value of ChinesePod in me,” the Ambassador said.

Carroll is trying to increase awareness of all things China in the Emerald Isle and Ambassador Kelleher explained why the relationship between Ireland and China is so important.

“At the Irish level, we have developed and sustained a very close and good relationship with the China in various ways. This year is the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with China and it coincides with the 60th anniversary with of the founding of new China – the People’s Republic of China.

“Within that we have had a broadening and deepening of the relationship in many area. I have mentioned the political and diplomatic, but also trade scientific matters education an area of particular interest to yourself, food and agriculture tourism and investment and also cultural matters.

Kelleher went on to say the Irish Government’s initiated Asia strategy ten years ago that had China at is heart, and that Toaisigh (Irish Prime Ministers) over the past decade have made numerous visits to China.

The two Irishman end the podcast by speaking to each other in Chinese, it sounds great and they both have a good laugh, but what they actually said to each other was never explained.

For everyone who uses Chinesepod, maybe you can listen to the exchange and test the skills you are acquiring for free!

好運對所有 - Good luck to all.

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