Why do so many Taiwanese speak English to foreigners?


true. I am in my 50s and since I gave Taiwan a new foreigner, my son, he is now addressed in a way that it becomes difficult to leave the house (I exaggerate a bit). The good part is that people are much more relaxed dealing with him but I notice they try to avoid to communicate with me. They talk to him (he is 2 and a half years old) like I am not standing right next to him. He is always referred to as foreigner, my wife is 'the nanny'. My inmates are proud of their private foreigners. But some nieces and nephews think he is strange cause he does not speak English much.


a foreigner? can't you obtain a taiwanese passport for him?


Just to add a bit of much needed humour into this debate from the rather crude verbiage earlier (there's never any need for that in polite company), maybe Touduke can wear something like this..

media.thenewstribune.com/smedia/ ... iate.5.jpg

thenewstribune.com/2010/11/0 ... se-to.html


his nanny just referred to him as the "wai guo" baby who surprises the people because he does speak Chinese. She knows my wife of course, a "Taiwanese Taiwanese" speaking Taiwanese to her. If my boy comes up with "gao za" all the people get crazy. How come the wai guo baby can speak Taiwanese? waaa! waaa?
It is mind boggling and makes me feel very uncomfortable. He was born here and holds a Taiwanese (as well as a German) passport.

yes, a mask would help. Something like a full face toupee maybe.


The other problem of Taiwanese...speaking without thinking first!


I can tell you that that doesn't get any better. Both my girls speak Taiwanese fluently, and from the reactions they get you would think that we were in Java, or that they were speaking Swahili. Those reactions are well-meaning and genuinely impressed though. Not all that many kids around here speak Taiwanese, hunxuer or otherwise. Having said that, it drives us all nuts, but in the end we have a laugh over it. You can't let that kind of stuff get under your skin if you want to stick around here and not go nuts.


I would have locals comes up to my son and speak to him in English, only for him to turn around and tell them he doesn't speak English. This was true until he was 8 years old. Born and raised speaking Taiwanese and Mandarin in Taichung.


I am sure that made him really feel at home.

How can you explain to a child that everybody thinks he's a foreigner?
"Daddy, why do people speak English with me?"
"See 寶貝, you look different, people don't think you are Taiwanese"
"Daddy, why is that?"
"Because you look different"
"But pop you wrote on FORUMOSA that there's not such a behavior, that only ignorant people would behave like that"
"Well son, err, people in Taiwan are... .err 寶貝 err 閉嘴, papa has to call ammaa.


No my son looks just like a local, it was just that he would be with me and people would assume he could speak English. Many would first ask if I was even the father or was just caring for a friends kid, as my son didnt look very foreign at all. If he was with his mother without me present nobody ever asked or assumed he was a foreigner. Just another local Mum with her kid.

And back in the early 1990's very few expats with mixed kids in Taichung at that time. Only happened a few times over several years. not like it was a daily event. Other expats would speak to him in English as well, they are just as ignorant as everybody else.

And it wasnt anything that offended us or made us feel like a foreigners. Young kids don't understand that anyways.

He is nearly 20 now and nobody asks him where he is from. Maybe because he acts just like any other local young lad the same age. He just tells them even though he was born here he is a foreigner. He doesn't have local citizenship. As such he can enrol in University here if he wanted to, on one of those paid foreign scholarships for undergraduate degrees. Something your kids won't be able to do as they are Taiwan citizens. :smiley: :smiley:


This new line of argument is a diversion tactic and OT. Touduke couldn't support his original argument and so now has decided to argue something else. This thread isn't about the experiences of children of expats in Taiwan. Their experiences are for another thread. This one is only about whether or not the mere action of a local speaking English to a westerner in Taiwan, by itself, constitutes an act of exclusion, rude behaviour or racism.

Taiwan's policies may (or may not) be exclusionary. But it does not prove that a Taiwanese person who greets you in English is being rude.
Taiwanese give a lot of attention to biracial kids. That doesn't prove that a Taiwanese speaking English to a foreigner is inappropriate behaviour.


It's time to draw a line in the sand. Next prick who has the audacity to talk English to me had better be tooled up because he's going down. Comprende? If every westerner takes this line we'll soon nip this racist twattery in the bud.




Only talking correct? Writing doesn't count then.

Well Touduke, I went to pick up my son from the American school in Takeng when he was in year 11. I was waiting in the car park having a smoke, when another British Expat came over to say hello. He was having a serious whinge about how the "international" school had all these Asian kids in there and it wasn't right that his "white" kids should be in the minority.

So I pointed over to my son and said "Oh, you mean like that Asian kid over there" Yes, he replies, too many of them. Then I called to that "asian kid to come over. I then introduced him to that English chappy, and advised him that in fact my son is Australian. That English chappy didnt have much to say after that. He went a funny shade of pale.

By the way the school rules were that the kids were not allowed to speak Chinese in school unless they were in the Chinese as a second language class. Most of those " Asian " kids were from the USA, Australia UK and several were from parents who originated from Korea and some from Japan but had immigrated to the USA Canada OZ etc. Many had Taiwanese parents but were born and raised overseas before moving back here.


I don't understand you, Sat. Have I made a typo in my post? I keep proofing it, but can't see an error. I have had three Bloody Marys, mind.


I wonder if Touduke would feel excluded or uncomfortable if I spoke to him in English instead of Chinese? Would I be rude to do so? Would I be a racist? :whistle:

You Speak Fluent Chinese, but People Insist on Speaking to You in Stupid English




Well thanks for further demonstrating that racist views do exist in regards to what language people of certain ethnic backgrounds should speak!


This thread has run it's course. I'm locking it, largely because it's going nowhere as the crux of the thread has been answered and rehashed several times and it's becoming a breeding ground for going OT, personal insults etc.

However, feel free to start a new thread on immigration policies (west vs east, Taiwan vs whoever), the experiences of parents and mixed kids etc. Also, note that some of these topics may not be suitable for Living in Taiwan.


I know some taiwanese who went to France and asked for any English menu. The waiter refused and said “you are in France, you need to speak our language!”.

Once i went to a store looking for a rice cooker, i asked a clerk of she spoke English and her eyes went wide, like looked really scared.

When i speak French, they like to correct me. … then apologize for correcting me.

I think they are really proud of their language, are scared to use English unless it is perfect, and want others to speak perfect french.

Now back to the topic. My taiwanese husband speaks English at hotels and restaurants because he thinks he will get better service.

My mother in law tries to speak to me in bad bad English if there are other people around. Probably trying to show off.

My 5 year old nephew asks me to teach him English, probably because his mom tells him it is important.

My sister in law talks about immigrating to a western country every time i see her. We both agree the taiwanese education system is too brutal. She sees English as a key to escape.

When my cousin in law was pregnant, my husband suggested she give birth in Canada so the baby could have canadian citizen ship. I don’t think it works that way.