Ways to get people to speak Chinese (not English) with you

Once in a while, when I really don’t feel like using my English, I try to force people into using Chinese.

My strategy that doesn’t always work for some reason, is that I just tell them I’m Mexican.

People who know where Mexico is and what language they speak usually start speaking in Chinese.

For the majority of people, they just assume that if you look white you speak English :frowning: . But If I really need to, I just say that I can’t speak English, and if they happen to speak Spanish I can speak to them in Spanish, but I haven’t met a single soul here yet that speaks Spanish at a conversational level.

I feel bad lying though. Really bad.

What do you guys do?

My strategy for most people is just to speak Chinese or Taiwanese. Only once in a long while do I come across someone who refuses to speak it, and for those few individuals, I suppose I could tell them I’m Russian or Mexican. My Spanish and Russian aren’t so good, though, and I probably couldn’t get past a few sentences with a fluent speaker of either language. But it doesn’t happen that often so I’ve never really felt compelled to try.

A friend of mind studying in Shanghai many years ago adopted the strategy of telling would be English practicers he was a non-English speaking Albanian. A good strategy at that time as Albania was the only other Maoist country on the planet, and he figured the last thing any Chinese wanting to practice their English hoped to encounter was another bloody commie.

Worked well for a year, until he met some poor bastard that had studied Albanian, of all languages, for five years. The guy was beside himself when my mate failed to understand a single word after all those years of study. My mate offered the face saving excuse that he was from a poor village and didn’t speak the national language.


Yeah, I’ve spoken Spanish when pulled over by the cops. :laughing:

Get someone to drive a scooter into you.

A real small scooter.

A real small scooter.[/quote]

yeah, no kidding


I’m planning on moving from Taichung to Taipei.
I’m a bit worried about how it may affect my language learning as
when I speak chinese in Taipei people keep replying in English.
Maybe I should just say:

Any suggestions, tips, experiences??


I’m planning on moving from Taichung to Taipei.
I’m a bit worried about how it may affect my language learning as
when I speak Chinese in Taipei people keep replying in English.
Maybe I should just say:

Any suggestions, tips, experiences??[/quote]

For some reason, many people seem to be learning French here. I would choose a language they definitely don’t know. I enjoy telling them I am from Poland.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that old bitch and whine.

Or just keep speaking to them in Chinese…they usually get the idea.

If you say you’re French, you’d have to speak Chinese with a French accent:

Wo she fa kwo hren.

The joy of living in Chiayi is that no one can speak English. :slight_smile:

We’ve already got a topic on this. I’ll merge it.

Have you tried saying, “Id like to speak in Chinese, please”, in Chinese?

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Nor does anyone speak proper Mandarin either!

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Actually this sometimes makes me wonder the intelligent level of Taiwanese. You fake not knowing English and they continue to speak English to you. Even if you tell them in Chinese that you don’t speak English. White foreigners who really cannot speak English well must want to hit Taiwanese sometimes.

Maybe the collective caught on that the Waiguoren are pretending not to speak English so that they have to speak Chinese instead of English. Maybe they don’t give a damn about you not wanting to speak English because they want to practice their English, like how you don’t give a damn they don’t want to speak Chinese because you want to practice your Chinese. I wonder how many native Taiwanese want to hit people who don’t cannot speak Chinese or Taiwanese well. Maybe they are just more polite that their English is better than your Chinese/Taiwanese?

Do you realize now how rude your post sounds after I changed it? What does the intellect level of the Taiwanese have to do with them wanting to practice English with you, just as you want to speak Chinese with them?

But the problem is that they don’t.

Whenever I go to certain restaurants or bars that appeal to mostly foreigners, it’s like I’m in a linguistic tug of war. I’m usually at a slight disadvantage from the start because I usually have to double check the menu to remember how to say carne asada burrito or porterhouse steak in Chinese, since 90% of the time those words are some phonetic transcription of random Chinese characters. For me, Chinese loan words that are based off of meaning, like 千層麵 for lasagna, are a lot easier to remember and I feel like less of a douchebag saying them. But something like, say, 法士達 for fajita I’ll never remember and I’ll feel absurd ordering that since I can just say fajita in English (or Spanish, I guess.) But once you slip and call a fajita a fajita and not a 法士達, you’ve already lost the game. They sense weakness and they’ll never cede an inch, no matter how much Chinese you use with them.

When I used to live in China, these sort of foreign restaurants would have separate English and Chinese menus. When I would go to one of these restaurants with my girlfriend at the time, we would switch menus and she would speak entirely in English and I would speak entirely in Chinese. Those were the days.

I’ve thought about doing some more passive aggressive things to fight back, like deliberately mumbling overly complex English in a fake Scottish accent. But what’s the point? If I’m paying this premium to go to a nice restaurant, I shouldn’t have to feel like I’m being humiliated. Just like War Games, the only way to win is not to play. I’ve got a mental blacklist of places I’m never returning to again after I thought the server was acting like a conceited tool.

The point is they seem to believe that all white people speak English or want to speak English. Maybe I am wrong but I believe they would continue speaking English to me even if I was really Albanian and only spoke a few words of English.

Furthermore there have been cases in which Taiwanese have tried to speak English to me and I did not understand what they were saying. Even though I did not understand them they insisted to keep on speaking English.

If you want to speak English with Taiwanese don’t go to the typical foreigner hangouts. It is as simple as that.