Why do so many Taiwanese speak English to foreigners?


This reminded me of my friends who looks Asian but only speaks English (her parents refused to teach her Chinese). She was in an elevator with a couple who then asked her slowly "how are you? Do you like Canada? " She was so stunned (by their assumption that she can’t speak English ) that she couldn’t answer in time , and the couple got off the elevator.


Haha. Esperanto. My friend is in an Esperanto group. Why? I don’t know. Even linguosteve (YouTube and polyglot) won’t learn that “language”.


you would need stats to compare how many people here are in an english speaking bubble compared to how many in the chinese speaking bubble in canada. honestly i have no idea but i keep hearing there are tons of chinese in canada.

and no, having a taiwanese person ask you a repetitive set of questions to practice their english doesn’t count as socialising. the bubble you speak of would probably count mostly as other foreigners.


You’ve got a point.
And, no, currently there’s no research or statistics about it.

But I really have a hard time recalling seeing any Chinese-looking people not able to speak enough English to pass by life in any English-speaking countries.
Sure, there are some older folks that may speak absolutely zero English, but the younger ones all could at least pass by life with simple conversational English. And this can be said about all migrants. This is not particular a Chinese thing.

So, I don’t really understand what their so-called “Not integrating into” mean and why they only pick on Chinese folks rather than Indian folks or any other major ethnic minorities.


first you say not being able to speak the local language badly effects the person, now you are saying no chinese person in an english speaking country is having any trouble getting by in life. totally the opposite of what you first said!

i don’t see why you need to pick a side here. not integrating is surely a hassle for whoever it is. its not as if a foreigner in taiwan doesn’t need to speak english because the locals all know english. i mean thats kind of what you are saying but its far from true.


But why – WHY – for the love of God, will they not even try to speak to you using any human language ever invented, but just reach for the calculator to show the price of two buns? Like, anyone who ever had any Chinese class would probably be able to handle a couple of numbers more than anything else possible anyway. I mean, for God’s sake, grunt at least. Anything.

Is the teaching at Shita so bad these days that the local tradespeople have totally and completely given up on Mandarin for anyone with a foreign face?

I think I’ve gotten more calculator-thrusts and bad sign language over the last week or so than I ever saw in Taiwan when I was living here. I can understand a wrong assumption that a foreign face must speak English, but it would be nice to have an assumption that a foreign face could speak some form of human language.


LOL. it is quite frequent. i have started to repeat the price when i am told it. people look less unsure after that


I think it’s more about not letting the other customers hear the price they are giving to you than not wanting to speak with you.
I saw many times vendors showing the calculator to Taiwanese people as well.


There’s a lot of foreign tourists these days and I think a lot of younger people are disinclined to open their mouths to actually communicate with people.


In a bakery? It’s not really a bargaining situation…


The calculator thing is really weird, and very annoying if you’re in a hurry. As Ricarte says it’s not just for foreigners - I’ve seen it done with everyone. I can only guess that it’s a cultural thing. Salesclerks here are very cautious to make sure that the correct sum is processed and that the customer is made sure of it. I believe that any discrepancies often get taken out of their pay.


In a bakery? Oh, I didn’t get that from your post. Yeah, it is a bit much for sure.


That’s just plain rude.
There’s no excuse for them to do such a thing to anyone.

The similar encounter for me in the West would be people started pretending to be busy with their work and ignored me once I entered their stores.


can you blame them? they probably saw your posts on forumosa !


Like me lol. I’m always easily irritated during commute.


I’m in Singapore right now (my first time). The multiculturalism here may be the reason for my recent experience.

As I was walking around being a tourist I spoke Chinese twice with two different groups of people. No one gasped in awe. No one became tongue tied. No one reacted in any way. They just spoke with me in Chinese like I was a normal human being. Contrasted with what often happens in Taiwan, it was really refreshing.


That’s exactly how I felt when I went to Sabah–quite a few Chinese people there. On my way back into Taiwan, we passed the duty free in the airport. I was speaking in Chinese to my wife, and one of the workers literally screeched, practically out of control laughing, “ta hui shuo zhongwen!” I knew I was back home.


Maybe it’s because my first experience speaking a foreign language was Japanese in Japan, but it just seems to me like Taiwanese people react pretty damn normal to foreigners speaking Chinese… I mean sure you get the odd duck who makes a scene occasionally but it seems very rare compared to Japan.


I think it’s the opposite, Japanese don’t tend to bat an eyelid when foreigners speak Japanese.
Not surprising as many foreigners live permanently in Japan working in all kinds of industries.


As an Easterner in the West, I have that kind of refreshing moments like 40% of my time in the West. When no one really sees me as a strange foreigner from China/Asia or refer to me as “The Chinese/Asian guy” in any form. Some people even refer to me as “The Gentleman”, which makes me on top of the world.

But I go from being on top of the world to being about to explode with anger really fast when the other 60% moments occur to me.