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filimdude88

Finding people to speak Chinese with

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filimdude88

Inspired by Tamu's post on studying independently, I'm considering self-studying. I'm on the lookout for tutors and language exchanges, but I was also wondering if people had tips on how to find people to talk to.

 

Is Wechat's "find people near me" function useful for that kind of thing?

Are there other apps or websites like a Chinese version of meetup.com?

In smaller cities, will people just come up to foreigners and talk to them? In Beijing?

 

Thanks for any tips :D

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mungouk

For online learning italki.com specifically supports finding qualified professional teachers and lower-cost "community tutors" (both types have reviews/ratings and an intro video), as well as finding people who want to do language exchange.  

 

For paid lessons you schedule them through italki. Once you're connected you are free to communicate on whatever platform works for you. 

 

 

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ChTTay

Are you in China? If so, wechat look around can be ok. Personally, I found it more useful when I was living in a student area. A lot of people have no intention of meeting but just want to talk to a foreigner in a safe environment. I found many dont have any English. It’s more useful if you ask them if they mind voice messaging rather than text. 

 

When i I was beginner the best situations were where you’re stuck together haha for instance, if you’re in a taxi, on a bus or train. Then hanging out in parks usually means old people (it’s their usual hang out) will talk to you. Especially if you very obviously old a Chinese book/textbook. 

 

I found language exchange to be a waste of time as a beginner but think you’ve just gotta he lucky with who you find.

 

if you’re interested in a sport or hobby, go join a China club of that. That way You’re all there united by an interest that isn’t learning a language. 

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DavyJonesLocker

You can use an app like 探探。 Its a dating app primarily but I make it clear that I'm only interested in making friends. I have some good great acquaintances and years later still in touch and meet up regularly.

I'm a 100% convinced that to improve your Chinese you need to speak to people that have no English whatsoever. (Once you are passed upper beginner stage) 

 

My spoken chinese improved dramatically simply due to this. Talking to people who have hardly any contact with foreigners will be a very different experience then compared to conversing with Chinese with good English or experience of conversing with foreigners. You will find tones suddenly become quite important at times and the sentence structure you use, even though grammatically correct can sound quite unnative like, thus causing confusion. The most useful words I have in my anki have all come from wechat chats  and hardly any appear even in HSK 6.

 

In hindsight I wish I interacted with native chinese much earlier than I did. I spend 2 years in a language school and really got nowhere to be honest. Even in the spoken classes were far removed from relatity . 

 

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imron
1 hour ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

I spend 2 years in a language school and really got nowhere to be honest.

Yes, but keep in mind that without that 2 years in language school, you probably wouldn't have made such rapid progress when just speaking to locals.  It gave you a foundation to work with even if it didn't feel like it at the time.

 

1 hour ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

I'm a 100% convinced that to improve your Chinese you need to speak to people that have no English whatsoever.

Agree with this completely.

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DavyJonesLocker
2 hours ago, imron said:

Yes, but keep in mind that without that 2 years in language school, you probably wouldn't have made such rapid progress when just speaking to locals.  It gave you a foundation to work with even if it didn't feel like it at the time.

 

On reflection I'd say I was a combination of unsuitable teaching , very poor Chinese written teaching material but if I'm honest, too regimented approach to  learning on my part. Yes I did learn to some extent but after 2 years and not even being a hsk4 level it was pretty inefficient especially given all the hours I put in. 

However on the plus side, I did learn "how to learn" . That in itself can be a torturmus path for people like me who spet their whole life doing technical work and take up leaning Chinese in their 40s

 

 

2 hours ago, imron said:

Agree with this completely

Surprised actually you agree. I thought the general feeling amongst learners was that Chinese speakers with some sort of English was ideal. I found it just allowed me to be sloppy with my Chinese, just drop in English words as I was too lazy to try explain my meaning in a different way or make an effort to look up the word in pleco . 

 

Also actually speaking to people I even find that very simple words are limited to the same scope as when I first studied them. My dentist , hairdresser, physio are all referred to as 老师 by their colleagues but I only ever learned  this to refer to an academic teacher. 

Similarly we all learn 很好 yet hearing 

很棒, 牛, 牛B (the good meaning) ,厉害, 蛮 etc come up quite frequently in my experience 

 

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ChTTay
2 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Surprised actually you agree. I thought the general feeling amongst learners was that Chinese speakers with some sort of English was ideal.

I’ve never found this in the time I’ve learned Chinese! Almost everyone I’ve met who studies wants more of an immersion into the language. No English explanations etc apart from perhaps at the very first beginner stage when you’re learning “hello”. 

 

Chinese English classes in school are completely in Chinese apart from the set word or phrase they’re doing. It’s not what you want at all

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妍卉

You can download " Hello Talk " ,I think it will be a very useful app for you. you just enter your native language and the language that you want to learn , so you can search Chinese people who are interested in learning english . You  can search by age , city ,gender ,the nearest to you.  even if you don't want to talk to anyone u can read the moments that Chinese people post , the moments could be idiom ,storied or updates about their life .

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dtcamero

i agree tantan is pretty much best.

sorry but a platonic friend isn't going to be very giving, as they have little reason to go out of their way and make an effort to communicate with a foreigner with terrible chinese.

for your first language partner in particular, this person will have to be especially patient, and generally romantic interest is the best motivation. 

 

if you're a foreigner in china with basic social awareness, there are plenty of chinese people who would like to go on a date with you, listen to your awful chinese and give you your best listening practice anywhere, all for free. 

this is the secret sauce for language study: an  L2 girlfriend (/boyfriend)...

 

she(/he) doesn't have to be pretty or young... stick with that person for a few months and watch your language skills shoot up like a rocket 😂

that person will go out of their way to explain their culture to you. will take you around your chinese city with you. will give you an example as she (/he) orders food and interacts with other chinese people, etc etc

this is all indispensible stuff. ya maybe you could somehow find a platonic friend to do it with, but that would be hard... and you would need better chinese first probably. 

 

this is easy to do (unless you're married lol).

whenever I'm having a really good day using my japanese or chinese, a local person will often ask if I have a local wife or girlfriend. and when I reply that I have (/ or had a local gf in the past), i get the knowing look like ok, that explains it.

 

my two mao: if you're available, then there's no better language-learning opportunity than your next significant other. 

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DavyJonesLocker
7 hours ago, dtcamero said:

sorry but a platonic friend isn't going to be very giving, as they have little reason to go out of their way and make an effort to communicate with a foreigner with terrible chinese.

 

I think though 

1. Personality is the overriding factor here. If someone has all the charisma of a doorstop they are going to struggle whether it's plutonic or not. 

 

2. The terrible Chinese bit you mention is a problem and you end up with this chicken and egg situation, but sitting at home and doing nothing is not a solution either right? You need to be a bit thick skinned and be prepared for failure initially. If your Chinese really is terrible then wechat chats is a good way to improve this quickly and you can move on to voice recording etc. We chat translation, baidu fanyi can help a long way with that.

 

3. No point just selecting the pretty ones, reality is they will get a lot of attention anyway. There are plenty of divorcees, unhappy married men and women on there and whatever their reason for being on there it's  best not to judge. But it's easy to strike up a chat. Often they just was a ear to vent their unhappy life if one is willing to listen 

 

All this can lead to actually meeting people in person. I meet someone at least one a week in Beijing, grab a coffee etc and it's always plutonic. Tomorrow I'm going with a  woman much younger than me to an exhibition. I know she likes going with me as she sees me as her 大哥  .The reality is there is an unacceptable amount of seedy foreigners in Beijing with just one thing on their mind (as I have been told by Chinese woman many many times!) so courtesy and good behavior goes a long way to breaking down language barriers and building a trust .

 

 

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MSMX

Tantan (or any dating app) is very limited to those who are attractive. White and women would never have any problems on making friends via dating apps, but for Asians it is practically impossible. 

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