Language barriers in China

Hello,

Learning a new language is a part of the expat process. Let's find out how crucial it is to know the language in China.

What is the official language in China, and what are the other popular spoken languages?

Is it possible to live in China and get by without speaking the language?

How do you manage to communicate with the locals if you don't speak the native/official language fluently?

What are some popular and useful phrases that expats absolutely need to know?

Can you share some tips about how to survive in China on a daily basis without speaking the language?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

What is the official language in China, and what are the other popular spoken languages?
Mandarin

Is it possible to live in China and get by without speaking the language?
Yes, if you have local friends to help you.  Get google translate for your cell phone.  Learn a small amount of Chinese.

How do you manage to communicate with the locals if you don't speak the native/official language fluently?  Point at things say jiggar (this), niggar (that)

What are some popular and useful phrases that expats absolutely need to know?

Can you share some tips about how to survive in China on a daily basis without speaking the language?
Alipay,  Didi Taxi.  Subway Bus card.  KFC Burger King and Mcdonalds.

If you move to live in China, it should be mandatory to learn the official language. There are too many lazy foreigners in China that refuse to learn the language.

You know, I've studied Chinese for some time, but my language ability is rather retarded. Part of it is that my wife refuses to speak Chinese around me. Part of the problem is that in my role, I need to play the big Laoban that communicates through my aides. Part of the problem is that the locals EXPECT me not to be able to speak Chinese. It's an image that I am expected to have.

That being said, I have found the most important phrases are those that relate to food and drinking. Other phrases that are helpful in a KTV are important.

In my role, as an "important" boss, if I speak Chinese it detracts from my face. My face as an important international businessman, with aides and a support network becomes something else when I speak Chinese. For me, I must either speak Chinese absolutely fluent, or not at all. There is no in between,

At least you tried :) . That is most important. But there are too many foreigners don’t care at all. Life will be so much easier if you know the language. And will get a deeper understanding and knowledge of culture, people and food etc.... if you have some basic skills in the local language. Also the job opportunities will be on another level if you speak the language. And of course it helps if you have a Chinese husband or wife or a close local friend. I’m also married to a lovely Chinese woman :)

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