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miss-kapa

Those who lived in China and left.

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miss-kapa

Hey guys. Last year I lived in Shanghai and I noticed i progressed up to HSK 4 lvl. 

But now when Im back to my country it feels impossible to go straight and further develope my Chinese lvl.  No streets, no public transport with chinese signs, no native speakers... It got much harder. No even wish to watch movies with subtitles. How do you study chinese when you're back to your country? Where do you get the energy and will from? 

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大块头

There is an article on Hacking Chinese that addresses this.

 

I'm lucky that Boston has so many Chinese students and visiting scholars. Before I was married I found an apartment and sublet exclusively to native Chinese speakers for a few years. If there are no native speakers near you, then you can easily find someone online to practice with.

 

As for motivation, maintaining and improving my Chinese ability is a key part of my career goals.

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Lu

I try to read a lot and look for opportunities to use my Chinese. I also keep learning words. But all in all I accept that my Chinese deteriorates when I'm not living in China or Taiwan. I try to slow the decline, that's about it.

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Xiao Kui

I kept mine up by making friends with local international students and watching CCTV on the CBox app for ipad. My listening skills actually improved while I was out of country just from watching CCTV. Now that I'm back in China I rarely watch Chinese tv lol.

 

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艾墨本

While out of the country I focused on the non-oral sides of Chinese, especially writing lots of characters. It was rewarding to come back and be able to read my surroundings. 

 

But, I do think the below is true. I need the full environment to bring the words from the page into reality. 

14 hours ago, 889 said:

If that's not possible, then you need to return to China at least once a year for two weeks minimum to recharge. This is essential. Otherwise, all your hard-earned efforts to learn Chinese will start to dissipate.

 

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Joe49558529

Most Chinese people I've met speak a very serviceable level of English despite never having left China and English being totally optional in their daily lives, try and think about what they do.

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889

Chinese people in higher track education start learning English at a younger age, when the mind seems to lock onto foreign languages more easily. But most here are learning Chinese as adults, when the mind isn't nearly as receptive to language acquisition. So the comparison isn't too apt, I think.

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mungouk
On 8/24/2019 at 8:29 AM, Joe49558529 said:

Most Chinese people I've met speak a very serviceable level of English despite never having left China

 

As in most countries, I doubt this applies to maids and taxi drivers et al, especially if they're older. 

 

On a recent holiday to Guilin I realised how much of a bubble Beijing is (which of course I've heard many times)... you try and talk to someone in Mandarin and they immediately reply in English. Especially younger people working in a coffee shop or a supermarket, who may very well have been hired based on their ability to talk to foreigners.


Finally being out of that bubble it felt more like proper "immersion".  Maybe the 服务员 in my hotels were just used to indulging foreigners who want to try out their Chinese so they wanted to humour them, and maybe it's normal to be given a "tour guide" who's basically just a driver who'll take you to the tourist sights but has no English at all... but I immensely enjoyed having authentic opportunities (and pressing reasons) to force myself to chat in Chinese. 

 

I came back to BJ refreshed and re-enthused about my learning. 

 

 

 

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DavyJonesLocker
8 hours ago, mungouk said:

 

On a recent holiday to Guilin I realised how much of a bubble Beijing is (which of course I've heard many times)... you try and talk to someone in Mandarin and they immediately reply in English

 

I agree,  I've always said Beijing Shanghai are not the ideal places to learn Chinese given so many can speak English and are quite insistent about it.  

 

I know many disagree with me but I really believe that being around people who don't speak a lick of English (nor have any interest) is the best way. It can be a tad frustrating at times when people keep replying in English or reply in these  half half sentences. 

 

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imron
5 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

but I really believe that being around people who don't speak a lick of English (nor have any interest) is the best way.

Plenty of these people exist in Beijing (and presumably Shanghai, but I only have first-hand knowledge of Beijing).

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abcdefg
On 8/24/2019 at 8:29 AM, Joe49558529 said:

Most Chinese people I've met speak a very serviceable level of English despite never having left China and English being totally optional in their daily lives, try and think about what they do.

 

It's like you and I live on different planets, @Joe. 

 

Your statement definitely is not true where I live (Kunming.) I go weeks without hearing a single word of English, except maybe for an occasional "Haloo" from a schoolkid on a bus.

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DavyJonesLocker
3 hours ago, imron said:

Plenty of these people exist in Beijing (and presumably Shanghai, but I only have first-hand knowledge of Beijing).

 

Indeed, that's more of a general statement when learning Chinese in China. It removes the laziness factor. I wrote above that in my view   Beijing, Shanghai are not ideal places to learn Chinese, not meaning to suggest that  you can't learn or its huge hurdle by any means. 

 

The problem is that I'm these  cities  there is a  natural gravitation , and one often unwittingly gets drawn into a English dominating environment through work, social group, lifestyle etc so you do have to be a bit more proactive and mindful in your avoidance of these situations. For example every gym I have been to in Beijing I always get people speaking English to me from the staff to the gym members. Coffee shops are the same. It got to the stage that I just put in ear phones to avoid having to engage people in conversation so as not to appear cold.  It's more of an observation between larger cities and tier 2,3 and certainly not a criticism of people in Beijing as they have  no way of knowing if you can speak Chinese or not. 

 

 This is assuming that learning Chinese is your primary driver. There are a lot conveniences in these cities that you can't get elsewhere so that  balance needs to be considered.

 

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anonymoose

It depends on your lifestyle, though. Going to the gym and coffee shop are very western concepts. I lived in Shanghai, and apart from when at work (where speaking in English was integral to the job), I rarely ever encountered English in daily life.

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suMMit

哎啊 I would love to be learning chinese in beijing. I must be in the WORST city in in the entire country for Mandarin - Guangzhou. They far prefer to speak cantonese, and i think they definitely arent that crazy about speaking mandarin to a laowai. Plus more people seem to speak English here. Their mandarin accent is not as nice as in the north either. I have much more practice when i travel to other cities for work. I was in Beijing about 4 months ago and found most people WAYYYYYYY more willing/pleased to speak chinese than in Cantonland.

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DavyJonesLocker

Maybe we should count ourselves lucky then !

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Brian US

I haven't found a noticeable difference in English level around China over the last 10 years. I continue to advise new-comers that outside the airport and hotel, you won't find much English to even get by.

 

I was surprised going to Hong Kong for the first time this year, that I ended up using Mandarin with shopkeepers and hotel staff more than English. I have absolutely no understanding of the current labor market in Hong Kong, but it seemed like the staff I talked to (hotel and random shops) were mostly from the Mainland (or definitely better in Mandarin vs English).

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道艺黄帝

I've been in SH for just over a year, and there are two SH's in my experience - the int'l one and the Chinese one. If you really want to learn Chinese, get your ass out if the foreign circles! I have come across so many foreigners who whine that they have been here for years and still struggle with basic Chinese. Then I ask them what they do on a weekly basis. They might work at a foreign company, go out to foreign bars, hang out with other expats, watch Netflix/YouTube, etc

 

I do everything I can do avoid foreigners, only hang out with Chinese ppl, and even the ones at Starbucks (who's English is usually limited to the menu) or any other chain, once I prove myself, they will always switch to Chinese for me. 

 

I feel the English level still has a laege split between upper/lower class, as lower class may only have access to Chinese English teachers or 中考/高考English. 

 

Back on topic, after I returned to the US from Latin America, I worried about my Spanish level dropping. I made it a point to seek out businesses specifically with immigrant owners. Barbers, restaurants, etc. Once I hit if off with the owners, this opened up so many doors to make 'FoB' friends haha. I would be their guide as they acquainted themselves to the US. I made some great friends, got great connections, and got to keep up my Spanish with authentic situations. 

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