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Flickserve

Just go up and talk to people?

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Flickserve

In Hong Kong, I don't really have much regular contact with native Mandarin speakers. So mostly it's online. 

 

One person in Hellotalk happens to be on the same master's course that I was on. She is not particularly keen on language exchange but I did ask her if she knew of other native Mandarin speakers who would be prepared to meet up. I live near the university and there is sizable proportion of mainland students at the University. 

 

She suggested that I go after lectures and talk to people after their lectures (our course is on a separate site). I thought that quite weird behaviour. Just imagine me running around looking a bit creepy trying to talk to people in Mandarin when they could be anyone and we have nearly nothing in common. When I suggested a better way would be to be a bit more formal, and tell people in advance, she poured cold water on it. Fair enough if she does not want to help. I don't hold any issues on that. 

 

My question is about what I think is a bit wierd behaviour. Is it normal in China, even in big cities just to go up and talk to strangers? I don't think I could go up to a person just like that in London or Hong Kong without some other good reason. I can natter to other people in smaller cities/towns but not in Mandarin. 

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Yes definitely sounds weird to me!

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歐博思

Just play the E.O.F. Card.

 

Extremely Outgoing Foreigner.

 

Then anything is ok.

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Flickserve
1 hour ago, 歐博思 said:

Extremely Outgoing Foreigner.

 

Don't have the looks. 😁😂

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anonymoose
2 hours ago, Flickserve said:

Is it normal in China, even in big cities just to go up and talk to strangers?

 

No, but approaching foreigners for language practice falls into a separate category.

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Lu

Generally speaking, her advice is not very good. She herself stated that she's not up for language practice, so how would she feel if someone just walked up to her and tried to practice their language on her? So, no.

 

That said, there are people who are sociable and outgoing to a point that they can manage this without seeming creepy and even with success, and if you are one of those people, that is definitely a talent you should use to practice. Of course, if you are such a person, you probably already do that.

 

Thinking about it a little bit more: what you might try is go to that building/place and ask people whether they know of anyone who would be up for language exchange (instead of just striking up a conversation about the weather or sth). That will look a bit desparate, but not necessarily creepy or weird. But there must be better ways to find a language partner (or Mandarin-speaking friend).

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vellocet

Don't go up to people and strike up a conversation about nothing.  Instead, join some clubs or whatnot that Mandarin speakers attend.  

 

Frankly when I was in HK I used more Mandarin than English, and didn't hear that much Cantonese.  

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歐博思
40 minutes ago, Flickserve said:

Don't have the looks. 😁😂

That wasn't so much a 'like'. More a 'shucks'.🤣

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Flickserve

I did send another message saying it was a bit of a shame about not getting a formal introduction. I also added I could have helped them with some of their work (me thinking about discussion about topics and general advice). 

 

 

She came back and said "Plagiarism is not allowed". At this point, there is no point in flogging a dead horse but at least I tried I 😁. Gave me a chuckle. 

 

Got to give the girl some leeway. She is probably majorly stressed out. It is a tough course and expensive. 

27 minutes ago, vellocet said:

Frankly when I was in HK I used more Mandarin than English, and didn't hear that much Cantonese.  

 

What circles do you move in? 

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emuboy

I think it all depends on context. Old people in China are regularly up for a chat, for example, so if I was to walk up to one of them it would be fine. But talking to people after a lecture like that might be a bit weird in China.

I chat to people in Australia all the time though, just about random stuff. It would definitely take balls to walk up to someone and begin chatting to them in Chinese in a place like Sydney or Hong Kong though I reckon, mainly because they might not speak it and it might lead to you coming across as a tool. Never would have thought England would be so different, hope not as I'm planning to move there in the future!

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大块头
20 hours ago, Flickserve said:

She suggested that I go after lectures and talk to people after their lectures (our course is on a separate site). I thought that quite weird behaviour. Just imagine me running around looking a bit creepy trying to talk to people in Mandarin when they could be anyone and we have nearly nothing in common. When I suggested a better way would be to be a bit more formal, and tell people in advance, she poured cold water on it. Fair enough if she does not want to help. I don't hold any issues on that. 

 

Are there a lot of Mandarin-speakers on campus? Maybe some flyers with your WeChat QR code would be a good way to find a nearby language exchange partner.

 

Maybe seek out who teaches ESL classes on campus to see if they can put you in touch with anybody?

 

If that doesn't pan out, you may be able to find someone on conversationexchange.com

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DavyJonesLocker

here is beijing I often talk to people in parks. No real general rule I'd say, old people hanging around with their families, playing chess, smoking etc, usually it is just natural and once they hear you can respond in Chinese  a conversation starts up quickly. You have to go through all the preliminaries of why are you in China, do you have a chinese wife, how much you earn .....

 

 

There is a lot of unnecessary scaremongering portrayed by foreigners on what topics you can and can't talk about, I had a very lively conversation in Beihai gongyuan a few weeks ago about the cultural revolution of which a whole pile of people joined in. You do have be somewhat diplomatic on these topics of course and be cautious of unknowingly criticizing Chinese culture (past and present). Last saturday I talked to a lot of folks about the Chinese education system of children with pros and cons with the western one. You can certainly  point out your opinions of western ones and enquire about the Chinese one.  Let them lead and you stay agnostic 

 

Everyone is willing to talk about the pollution issue here , the economy, house prices, to buy or not to buy, health aspect of Chinese.   Not once have I ever had any negativity or sense of awkwardness on any of these topics. However this can be an art in itself. So for example, i think Chinese food is rather unhealthy due to the oil content but rather than directly point that out you can say " I love chinese food but I do wonder at times if so much oil is healthy, as in the west we believe saturated fat is unhealthy"!, at which point many will confirm your suspicions and proceed to enthusiastically  tell you about other food types available in China. 

 

My American friend has had the opposite response, he a friendly chap but unknowing very  insensitive. When he talks to people proceeds to lecture Chinese that one day their country can develop to be just like the USA. It's quite cringy listening to it. Not generalising the US folks of course, just using him as an example coming from an affluent country. However his view of what is "better" is very different than his audience

 

 

 

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abcdefg
34 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

There is a lot of unnecessary scaremongering portrayed by foreigners on what topics you can and can't talk about,

 

Agree. I got into a conversation with a group of old codgers in a Chengdu park a couple years ago. One of the guys was telling me how bad Mao had been. I mainly just listened. (They were very hard to understand.) 

 

Nowadays I cringe when people bring up Donald Trump and the Trade War. I pray they will quickly change the topic to basketball. 

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