24 Jul Do people speak English in China?
Do people speak English in China?
You’ll probably have realised by now that wherever you go in the world, as an English speaker, you’re not going to encounter any communication problems. And, generally speaking, China is no different. We’ve written before about the extent to which the Chinese value their education. The stereotype of Chinese students working hard and being flooded with homework isn’t inaccurate, and as China takes an ever more leading role in global affairs, the Chinese are under no illusion as to the importance of learning English as a second language.
Of course, the level of English is contingent on some pretty predictable variables – where you go, one’s age, economic background etc. In rural towns and villages, for example, English can be almost non-existent. While children across China receive mandatory English classes until the age of 15, just as with our French, German, and Spanish, it quickly disappears from the memory of all those who don’t continue to study in their own time or use English for work or business.
That said, you’ll be able to pretty reliably navigate most parts of China by resorting to the typical English-speaker-abroad tactics of some survival local language from your Lonely Planet guide, a raised voice, and questionable gesticulation. For those of you who haven’t previously studied Chinese before coming to China, when you arrive for the first time, these are the tactics that you’ll inevitably resort to. For the purposes of a short term visit, you should be just about OK. Of course, for those with longer term plans or wish to truly to make the most of your time in China, we recommend you kick your Chinese language learning journey into gear ASAP!