Learning Chinese is a lengthy process that doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re a full-time student, you’ll need at least several months to get proficient. If you’re here doing a professional job, you may not have time to invest in the process, especially if it’s a short-term arrangement.
Either way, you still need to survive in the meantime. Here are 5 tips to help you navigate China easier.
1. Use Your Smartphone
One of the most invaluable tools for an expat with no Chinese skills is a fully functioning smartphone. Since it’s hard to ask the people around you for information, you can rely on the wealth of information offered by various apps and the internet to get you around China. Miracle Mandarin has developed 7 apps, which would be your perfect Chinese assistants. They are Chinese Pinyin Learner, MM Chinese Speaking Program, MM Chinese Characters, Characters Vocabulary Cards, 365 Practical Chinese Sentences, MM Chinese Vocabulary, MM Chinese Vocabulary 2. You can find our Apps by searching “Miracle Mandarin” in the App Store or Google Play.
2. Get Support
It’s easy to get frustrated when even the most simple tasks become battles due to a language barrier. That’s why it’s so important to call on your friends from back home for support, as well as to seek out new friendships and build a solid local support system as well.
Obviously, there’s a balance to be struck – you don’t want to be holed up in your room on your phone or computer all day, but losing touch with your roots at home is a mistake. You’ll find out what works for you after some trial and error. But leaning on other people makes a world of difference in moving through a country where you can hardly communicate.
3. Learn Charades
Verbal communication isn’t the only way you can get your point across. Combine some expert gesturing skills with pointing at pictures and translations on your smartphone, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can communicate.
The point of this is persistence – rather than just giving up, find other ways to get what you need. While you may not be able to describe what you want exactly, it’s still better than walking away empty-handed and relying entirely on other people to translate for you.
4. Get a Translator When Needed
It’s no secret that China can make running errands difficult for non-Chinese speakers and non-Chinese ID holders. If you’re trying to open a bank account or sign a lease, you’ll need some help from a translator. This can be a Chinese friend you trust, a fellow expat with awesome Chinese skills, a paid translator, or even an app.
5. Learn (A Little) Chinese
Inevitably, you’ll need to pick up a bit of Chinese. Your address, phone number, your favorite order at a restaurant – knowing key phrases will make your life much easier, even if you never decide to take formal lessons.
You don’t need to spend hours poring over a textbook just to get by. Only you can decide how much you need to know to support your lifestyle.
At the end of the day, if you live here, these will only get you by for a short time. Come learn at our school.
Learn Chinese in Shanghai. Learn Chinese at Miracle Mandarin.