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Date: Mar 6th 2014 9:32a.m.
Contributed by: ktschroedes

If you're like me, a new foreigner in Guangzhou who doesn't know a lick of Chinese, then you probably say, "I speak English" or "I don't speak Chinese" 50 times a day.

Before I moved to Guangzhou, I had the luck of meeting a local in my hometown of Minneapolis. I asked her if many people in Guangzhou speak English, as she was a fluent speaker having only lived in the U.S. for two years. "Most of the younger generation speaks English, they learn in middle school and high school. You just have to ask them", was her response. So I arrived here with much hope that I would be able to communicate with at least most people under 30 years old.

Uh uh, I was mislead. Or maybe I only heard what I wanted to hear. My second day in Guangzhou, I went to PoPark Mall and asked everyone I passed if they spoke English just to see what would happen. The only words in English I got out of them was "no". In a panic, I wondered, how will I ever get my hair cut? How will I be able to ask for anything? How will I get around if I get lost? Of course, I am working on learning Mandarin but it takes time. "I speak English" has been a recurring statement throughout my days.

Luckily, I've figured out a way to at least get by. Google Translate has become my best friend. Other phone applications such as Pleco have also helped me read Chinese characters, a feature you have to pay a little extra for. Not only do these apps help to translate what you want to say but they also help you learn Chinese too!If you're a newcomer ...


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