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  1. #1
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    Language Barrier

    I have always wanted to go to China for both business and pleasure, but the biggest issue for me is the language. I do not know any Chinese whatsoever and i hear there are loads of dialect and variations, so am wondering how a tourist can make it a few days or weeks in china?

  2. #2
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    China attracts millions of international visitors every year and therefore have a big chunk of population people who know English. By knowing i mean that although its not their first language but many of Chinese does know few English words specially in bigger cities.

    If you are still concerned you can hire a tour guide which will show you major attractions and will for sure speak English.

  3. #3
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    oh ok - i think i have been fooled by the media.....most of whats on tv about the chinese had me believe that they would not be able to speak anything else apart from chinese.....i think also having the option to get a tour guide well versed in english would make the experience good for me

  4. #4
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    There are loads of dialect variations in China (it's a huge country) but a few phrases of basic Mandarin can do wonders. Yes, it is probably more convenient to hire an English-speaking guide. There are many agencies offering such services in China and due to the boom in the number or tourists coming in, it should not be too difficult to find and hire one.

  5. #5
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    Language is a real concern...I personally would never go somewhere that I couldn't communicate in the main language at least well enough to hold basic conversations. If learning some of the basics is out of the question ,than perhaps a guide who can translate would be a good investment and ensure that you make the most out of your time there.

  6. #6
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    I think taking a translator would be a very wise investment indeed. Don't want to end up saying something wrong in their language that could offend them. Then you'd just have a bunch of angry Chinese going at you in words you can't even understand. I do believe that there would be some Chinese folk that would understand the basics of the English language, but not enough to really be of much help.

  7. #7
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    Absolutely, get a translator from a reputable company (your travel agent might be able to suggest one). It also depends on where you intend to travel in this huge country. In large cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, you will definitely find some English speakers (although most tend to speak English as well as the average white American speaks Spanish). Many can read English fluently but often have very strong accents due to the different sounds that exist in English and Chinese and vice-versa.

  8. #8
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    There are a lot of improvements in terms of the language barrier for tourists in China. In about 10-15 years, there will be enough young professionals in China who will have enough English language competency to welcome tourists that are willing to explore the area.

  9. #9
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    Definitely! And there are more and more Europeans who are learning Mandarin Chinese than ever before. I suggest that for the English-speaking tourists, it would be better to hire a guide or follow Chinese speaking friend or learn some basic Mandarin and also memorize a few dozen of the most common Chinese characters. I've had American and European friends visit China and who had the time of their lives.

  10. #10
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    China has so many English tourists, that all the places you would be going would speak English. English is one of the most spoken languages in the world, so I dont think you should have a problem.

    (By the way, there is no such language as Chinese, they speak Mandiran and Cantanese in China.)

  11. #11
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    I would have to say that going around China with no knowledge in Mandarin is very hard. I remember staying in a five star hotel before. The only people who could talk in English were the manager and the supervisor. It was very hard to requests across. I guess the most important person in our trip was our tour guide. I can't imagine how we could have made it without her.

  12. #12
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    Re: Language Barrier

    I myself would love to travel to China. I think the best thing to do is to take a course in some Chinese dialect just to learn a few simple words, I don't think it's a good idea to go to China without learning how to communicate in their native tongue even a little bit would help. You could always try Rosetta Stone I heard a lot of good things about that program.

  13. #13
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    Re: Language Barrier

    I always feel anxious when I'm in a foreign country and I do not understand the native language of the people there.
    For this very reason, I always bring a friend who knows the language and can speak it fluently.
    I suggest that you bring someone with you who can speak Chinese.

  14. #14
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    Re: Language Barrier

    strata12123 is right, bring along a friend (or hire a guide) who speaks Chinese. Big cities in China all have signboards written in Chinese and English (or at least Chinese street names transcribed in Roman script) so it will not be so difficult to navigate your way around. The problem will be communicating with locals and Chinese is not an easy language for English-speakers to learn.
    You might want to learn some basic Mandarin but depending on the exact region that you are going to, the locals may either speak Mandarin with an impenetrable accent or a different dialect altogether like Cantonese or Shanghainese or Fujianese.

  15. #15
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    Re: Language Barrier

    Luckily there are a lot of people who speaks English in China. People in China are very educated and their country right now is probably one of the wealthiest country in the world. With so many businesses in China working iwth the US, you're sure to find that most people who are educated and have a job in China speaks English so you will not have a hard time going there. People there learn English while in grade school so a lot of them do understand English and more so if they are in the tourism business like being a driver or a guide. However, if you're afraid you should go iwth a touring company where they will do all the talking. You can also go on youtube and learn a few words on Youtube. You can bring a dictionary along so you can show it to whoever that you need to talk to. You can use sign language. Try not to ask too many questions unless you need to and travel to a destinations where its easy to get around and people speak English. You should find it comforting also that there are many Americans traveling there all the time so you can ask questions. You can also find it comforting that there are many Americans or people who speaks English live there as a foreigner.

 

 

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