Chinese Language Learning – Etiquette around approaching chinese-speaking strangers

I’m aware this is sort of an “asking reddit about social skills” question… but anyway:

I live in a city (London) with a large Chinese population and it’s not at all uncommon to overhear people speaking Mandarin to each other. There is a large Chinatown and a large student population.

I have several times struck up conversation with people at events, bus stops, etc, with some form of 你们是中国人吗?and had a conversation that may or may not go anywhere. I actually made two quite good friends this way and we’ve been for several dinners together since randomly meeting at a bus stop. It gives me great pleasure to share a dinner with people I have met through my interest in learning their language, and one of them told me he was happy to have his first time sharing a dinner with locals.

I am a very introverted person normally who finds it hard to make new friends, but I’ve found it gives me an ‘excuse’ to strike up conversation with strangers which is not something I would normally do.

The general impression people talk about is that native Chinese speakers are always impressed and delighted when a foreigner speaks their language. But I *have* had a few negative experiences where people gave me the cold shoulder, and on top of being awkward, it made me feel bad for imposing on somebody’s day. When I recounted these experiences to an online language partner, she said the people may have just been surprised and nervous.

I guess I just want to talk it out and hear from some native speakers around what your experiences have been like of being approached randomly in public. How often does it happen? Do chinese friends recount horror stories to each other of being approached by yet another white guy who thinks he’s hot shit just because he knows a few sentences? I *don’t* want to feel like I’m just stepping in front of them and proclaiming “Behold! A white guy that speaks Chinese! Be impressed!”

I *do* want to expose myself to social situations as a way to learn the language (and just generally be more of a social human), without imposing myself on others or expecting a random person going about their day to act as my language partner.

(There’s also an added layer to it if I’m a guy approaching a girl in public; I do try to approach both genders but in all honesty girls are usually less intimidating, especially in groups.)



View Reddit by demidyadView Source

26 Comments

  1. FederalTrick September 25, 2022
  2. dumpling98 September 25, 2022
  3. ii_akinae_ii September 25, 2022
  4. Kitkatexe September 25, 2022
  5. Eclipsed830 September 25, 2022
  6. whatanabsolutefrog September 25, 2022
  7. mtelepathic September 25, 2022
  8. WhiteJadedButterfly September 25, 2022
  9. CuriousAd1640 September 25, 2022
  10. Watercress-Friendly September 25, 2022
  11. niming_yonghu September 25, 2022
  12. SimplyChineseChannel September 25, 2022
  13. ratsta September 25, 2022
  14. bdfrdflls September 25, 2022
  15. Zizek_and_DMT September 25, 2022
  16. qing_sha_wo September 25, 2022
  17. MikiRei September 25, 2022
  18. kschang September 25, 2022
  19. meinfool September 25, 2022
  20. beartrapperkeeper September 25, 2022
  21. 1w34567890 September 25, 2022
  22. godston34 September 25, 2022
  23. Individual-Earth-939 September 25, 2022
  24. RonaldMcPaul September 25, 2022
  25. [deleted] September 25, 2022
  26. dolovrche September 25, 2022
Question and Answer Game for Kids – ESL Games
Chinese Language Learning – Peeking into the ancient Shang society via the pictograms of the oracle bone scripts
Funny Fruits Song | English Tree TV
Fun with Max and Alex: Swimming Pool, ESL for Kids
Secret Revealed! Best Way To Learn English Fast!
30 Minutes Learn English Speaking Easily Quickly – English Conversation for Daily Life
How to Explain Something in English – Basic English Phrases
Family Life- English Conversations
Beginning Mandarin Chinese: the Power of "万 (Wàn) 10,000" with eChineseLearning
Chinese Language Learning – Peeking into the ancient Shang society via the pictograms of the oracle bone scripts
[EN/ES SUB] 玲玲的家(2) | Slow Chinese Stories Beginner | Chinese Listening Practice HSK 2/3
Chinese Language Learning – Some recent sound changes of standard Mandarin
Learn Spanish with music – LyricFluent App Demo – Order Lyrics #learnspanish
Learning Spanish with Luz
Aprender español: Describir el carácter 😎😥😀 (nivel básico)
تعلم الإسبانية من الصفر للمبتدئين – الدرس 2 الثاني – تركيب الجمل بإحترافية