Are you planning your first trip to China? Well, this post will help you communicate better with Chinese, especially if you know little Chinese.
When “Hello” is a problem?
Most educated Chinese know English and you wouldn’t have any trouble in conversing with them. However, this is not true for most people on the street. Usually, their English vocabulary starts and ends at the word “Hello”.
Like in Western world, on Chinese streets, the word “Hello” is used to start a conversation. However, many a time, you’ll find salespersons shouting “Hello” behind your back to simply catch your attention. Their purpose is not to strike a conversation with you, something for which they are ill-prepared given the fact their English is limited to only a handful of words, but to entice you to buy what they are selling, often at exorbitant rates.
You shouldn’t pay heed to such “Hellos”, because if you do, at the end of the day you’re likely to be complaining of a sprained neck. There is no shortage of vendors on Chinese streets and their enthusiasm to sell goods at seriously higher rates to foreigners.
If you want to respond to a greeting, a friendly “Hello” will do. If you believe someone is attempting to sell you something, you can simply ignore the friendly gestures.
Lack of Comments Might Indicate Your Chinese is Good
There are two very important things you should remember. One, refrain from saying “ni hao” unless you wish to strike up a conversation in Chinese. Two, if you are speaking Chinese and don’t get any comments from your listeners, that’s a good thing. That means, you are speaking Chinese correctly and fluently.
The opposite is also true. That is, if you get encouraging nods or comments about how good your Chinese is, don’t take them to be true. Chinese are very polite people, and often their nods and encouraging words are more to encourage you to continue studying Chinese than a true reflection of your ability to speak Chinese. By the way, if you are interested in learning Chinese, the best way to do it is by joining Mandarin classes Singapore.
Say no many times, but don’t raise your voice
Native speakers who are eager to improve their English might request you to converse with them in English or give them a few tips. Nothing bad with this, but some people might overdo it. If you want to get away from them, say no, but remember you’ll have to say no several times because in China refusals are not taken seriously unless they are repeated many times. If you want to refuse a salesperson, then you will have to say no several times. However, do not raise your voice while conversing with them. Raising your voice in public is considered extremely rude in Chinese culture.
What to expect from social conversations
Some topics that are hardly raised in social conversations in the western world are spoken without any inhibition in China, like questions related to your salary, weight, marital status, your children, or family. If you are uncomfortable answering a question, politely evade it. However, don’t take offense, because people here have no qualms about talking these things with absolute strangers.
If you want to learn more about China, perhaps the best way would be to first learn Chinese in Singapore. Learning a new language helps you understand the country’s people and their culture so much better.