BOGOTA, Colombia — Elizabeth Zamora is a busy mother and executive. Still, for three hours every Saturday, she slides into a battered wooden desk at Bogota’s National University and follows along as Yuan Juhua, a language instructor sent here by China’s government, teaches the intricacies of Mandarin.
Zamora already speaks German and English, but she struggles to learn written Chinese characters and mimic tones unknown in Spanish. She persists for a simple reason: China is voraciously scouring Latin America for everything from oil to lumber, and there is money to be made. That prospect has not only Zamora but business people in much of Latin America flocking to learn the Chinese language, increasingly heard in boardrooms and on executive junkets.