Why do so many Taiwanese speak English to foreigners?


Great post bismarck.

Edit: I guess it really depends on what you want from your host country. I look Caucasian and I am treated like a 'foreigner' here by strangers. I don't have a problem with that because I am a foreigner. My Taiwanese friends treat me like just another person and everyone else (pretty much) is polite to me so I feel welcome here. One guy at my local 7-eleven loves it when I waltz in because he gets a chance to show off his English, which is pretty good. The other staff - who ask me yes/no questions in Chinese - are slightly in awe of him. I have no problem in humoring the young man.


I feel so unwelcome after reading this:


Well, I very much doubt that there are any foreign nationalities working in the police. I'm pretty sure you have to be a British citizen to join the constabulary. As Sat TV says, those non-white faces you see are the offspring of immigrants, often going back a few generations, and I think they'd be quite annoyed to be referred to as foreign. However, yes, you're right we do have a long colourful history of immigration into Britain, to the extent that we're all mongrels more or less, though a member of the British National Party would no doubt give me a kick in the head for daring to say such a thing.

The problem here is that we're talking about different things. There's governmental policies regarding immigration and addressing racism, there's the man on the street's attitude to foreigners, and there are differing attitudes to white and non-white foreigners. Britain does have an immigration policy but that's because it really needs one. As a rich country with lots of free social care people do flock here, it's true. If there's a greater percentage of immigrants in Britain than in Taiwan (and to be honest I have no idea), it will be because there are lots people trying to get in and stay. However, the other reason that there's an immigration policy is because governments are scrutinised upon them come election time. And the reason for that is because so many people either just plain hate immigrants or are simply feeling that our resources are better spent on native Brits (whatever that means).

The plot thickens further though :smiley: because it's in fact only the non-white immigrants that anyone really cares about. Sure, if you go back 50-60 years it was the Jews, then the Irish, that were seen to be the problem but recent waves of immigration have been brown or black so now everyone's focused on them instead. It's hard to generalise, but large parts of British society are deeply racist, mainly the older generation and some sectors of the working classes. We've had race riots in the not too distant past. As an ESOL teacher I have known many, many immigrants over the years and they do not get an easy ride by any means. We are far from a welcoming society unless you happen to be white (not including Americans, who are generally thought of as a bit thick and quite annoying :smiley: Seriously, though, an American ESOL tutor of mine had some negative experiences with other parents at her children's school. Or Polish too, come to think of it. Lots of bad feeling about Polish workers taking our jobs)

In the public services the percentages of non-whites recruited do not reflect those in the population which can lead one to conclude there's institutional racism operating there. The cost of applying for indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship is huge now, about £900 I think (45000 NTD) and if your application is incomplete they give you a few days to get the evidence to them before turning down the application with no refund. You also have to pass a test that 99% of Brits would not be able to pass themselves without study.

I could go on. :smiley: In fact, I will. My son was recently attacked on a bus because his girlfriend is Chinese. I must ask her the next time I see her whether she has anyone assuming she can't read English and insisting on giving her a menu in Mandarin when she eats out. And if she's upset when it happens over and over again. :laughing:

Having said all that, Britain is still probably a better place to be foreign than Germany or France. The last I heard of Germany there were gangs of neo-Nazi skinheads targeting the Turkish communities. And in France they've banned the burkha.


Just read your post and I stand corrected.

For the ordinary police this is the eligibilty:


you must be either a British Citizen, a citizen of the EU or other states in the EEA, or a Commonwealth citizen or foreign national with indefinite leave to remain in the UK

The reason they've relaxed the rules is because they're trying to increase the numbers of minority background officers.


Hmm. :ponder:


But will he get benefits and a pension equal to those available to ROC nationals in an equivalent post? Several years back I was contacted by an angry American teaching at a national university in the south who'd found out that he was entitled to a far smaller pension than his co-workers simply because he didn't have a local passport. (He wanted me to write some articles exposing this discrimination). He launched a campaign to have this changed but it foundered when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Not long ago, another academic confirmed that the double standard still exists, but I don't have up-to-date information.


They haven't changed the rule recently, it's been like that for a long time. BTW I am Irish and my grandparents worked in UK during WWII, Irish suffered a lot of discrimination back then but I think Britain is more open than most countries to immigration and has a lot of good policies even if there is a backlash now, I was especially surprised at how well people with African ancestry integrated there..much different than the US in general.
I would be surprised if anybody would encounter trouble in London, it is very multi-cultural. Any trouble that one gets is probably from the general chavs or whatever they call them...could be directed at anybody for any reason.


Good question and it is typcial discrimination, however if someone is willing to legally challenge it they should have a good chance of winning.


OK, fair enough.
I wouldn't call Britain open to migration except in those times that it suits us, i.e. when there's a labour shortage. You are right, however, in that black African and Afro-Caribbeans are generally better accepted in British society than they are in the US. But consider also that all societies need to have some kind of underdog and in Britain successive migrations have superseded each other in taking on this role. Black Britons are no longer the focus. Now it's Muslims, before that it was Pakistanis. White asylum seekers, such as Albanians, generally only fare better because they aren't so noticeable. Generally asylum seekers are more likely to be despised than pitied.
You wouldn't have to look far for racist incidents in London but I can't be bothered. They probably wouldn't compare with somewhere like Chicago I'm sure. With tough guns laws we don't tend to see anywhere near the level of violence generally I think. In London, where there are so many races living cheek by jowl, it would be more difficult for battle lines to be drawn as they have been in other towns and cities across the UK. There, there are largely white populations with communities of non-whites living in their midst. You can't take London as representative of Britain as a whole.


All very interesting stuff, this discussion of various countries' immigration policies and so forth. However, I'm not sure how relevent these discussions are in this particular thread. Some countries have liberal immigration policies; some much less so. Immigrants from various backgrounds enjoy varying rates of acceptance in their new societies. Racism also exists. However, none of this is really in dispute here.

This thread is really only exploring whether or not the use of the English language constitutes a deliberate and malicious attempt to exclude, annoy, behave rudely toward, or otherwise oppress a white western person in Taiwan. I think it is an absurd idea, but some seem pretty adamant that this is the case and feel discriminated against because a Taiwanese (usually correctly) assumes they are able to speak English.


toasty, we are sorry!

my feeling is expressed quite well by grumpy himself in the first post

being constantly addressed in English makes me feel I just arrived.


Most people who have just arrived feel excited when they wake up everyday to know they have new adventures coming up. You must feel distrssed everyday thinking, here comes another day, people treat me for what I am, just another foreigner. It's not special to be a foreigner in this country. There are several hundred thousand foreign citizens living here.

I bet your wife constantly speaks to you in English. If you find it too hard to be a foreigner in a foreign country, thats just tough.

You are feeling as an outsider. Just live with it. You won't ever feel you are accepted here. Just live with it. You will always feel uncomfortable and unhappy people speak to you in English. Just live with it. You are feeling awkward here. Just live with it. We know Taiwanese see the USA Australia Canada NZ as prime immigration destinations, Europe is just fly shit on a map, something to look at visiting but it's under really the radar here.

For you Taiwan clearly is not your home, that's why you feel the way you do.


I get that. You've made that clear a few times. I am not invalidating your feelings. However, I am criticizing your ideas. Your notion that people you don't know are deliberately excluding you or treating you rudely by speaking English to you is absurd. Your feelings on this non-issue originate in your own reaction to things here and your own culture shock, not in any inappropriate behaviour on the part of the poor sod trying to talk to you. Your feelings, genuine that they are, are a reaction to misunderstanding and cultural difference. Your only options are to either change your attitude or change your address.


Yeah he could move to Miaoli or another small town where very few people speak English.


I wonder if the same feelings would be felt if in a country such as Norway, Ireland, Czech or Australia, or is it more some kind of racial issue? Or perhaps some deep dark need to fit in, or be accepted? In any event, as Toasty mentioned, the onus is on yourself to make the adjustment.
A common prayer for the overattached:
" Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the vourage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."
"You'll let it go sooner or later, why not now?"


I've met only 2 expats in 22 years here that could not a lot of English when they arrived. Usually correct? More likely they have a better chance of meeting a White Taiwanese than meeting a white expat that cannot speak English, except maybe that Ninman who says he suddenly forgot how to speak his native English and Scottish after being in China for 2 years. But we all know he does speak English as he is supposedly an English teacher.


Well when I was in Norway and Sweden everybody spoke to me in English first, I was clearly foreign looking. Nobody spoke to me in the local language and they all assumed ( quite correctly ) that I was most likely going to be an English speaker. Yet I felt quite at home there. Such easy countries to travel around.


do you know the movie "groundhog day"

I just thought about it for a while. No it wouldn't be the same. The being addressed in English is just one part of the package. I sense that people here in Taiwan are uncomfortable, tensed, insecure when they deal with foreigners. They are often somehow over the top or specially friendly. And they always say exactly the same sentences or ask exactly the same questions, I have the strange feeling people in Norway would not do that.
Ireland and Australia do not fit here cause they speak English as their native tongue.


True but he'd better brush up on his Halkka then,

Easy countries to travel around but quite unwelcoming of immigrants and foreigners (I spent a few months in Sweden), Taiwan is a far easier place to call home in many ways.
None of these countries are really easy to get to know the locals though...Taiwanese are quite private, it's rare (at least for me) to get invited to people's homes for instance, being quite guarded about their personal family safety and don't often express feelings. I guess you have to really get in to society through family links.


It seems like you didn't get the whole point of that movie.