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Linguaholic

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Hi everyone!

I'm new to this site and I just want to say that this kind of forum is just what I've been looking for. Great initiative!

So, I'm going to Shanghai this entire summer with only one goal; to improve my Chinese. I'm going to start off by attending a one-month conversational class and then one and a half month of... What?

If you've been to Shanghai or China in general actually - please let me know what you found most amusing and language-improving. Is it possible to just go to cafe's and start talking to people??

Oh, by the way, my current level is upper intermediate.

SHOOT!

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Hey there

I have been in China for one year as well. It is pretty easy to start a communication in coffee places in China. However, Shanghai might be a little bit more difficult than other places. I can highly recommend you to go to Nanjing. It is just one hour away from Beijing and it is very beautiful. Moreover, less people speak English in Nanjing than in Shanghai, so it is kinda like the perfect environment for studying Chinese. And it is really cheap too. I can tell you about some good places in Nanjing, if you want me to.

kind regards

Lingua

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if you are going to Nanjing, make sure to go to S.I.T coffee. There are 3 or 4 SIT coffees in Nanjing. All of them are great and it is very easy to meet and talk to young people there. It is called 雕刻时光 in Chinese.

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  • 5 months later...

I've traveled to Shanghai many, many times (my parents live there) and one thing I noticed is that you really have to make an effort to get people to talk to you in Chinese. At least in the area I would visit, there were a lot of foreigners, so almost everyone ends up picking up a little English. I would have a lot of situations where I would ask something in Chinese, only to receive an answer in English. It's easy to just give up and start talking in English but you just need to be persistent! 

Overall though, people are really nice about you speaking Chinese. I think they're genuinely happy that you're making an effort to learn their language. :)

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I've been to Shanghai 3 times, one month each trip. If you are brave enough to just start talking to people in coffee shops or whatever, just do it - you will meet lots of interesting people that way, and most of them will talk to you in Chinese. I actually did this on uni campuses; I approached students who appeared to be relaxing. But I'm a little introverted, so I found a better method.

Every uni in China will have at least one official bulletin board where students are allowed to physically post stuff. I would find these bulletin boards and post a message in english asking for language exchange partners, and leave my phone/email/etc. I met dozens of friends that way. 

You can also find people online, and arrange for meetings in person. I like to use conversationexchange.com for this.

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I've been to China before (not Shanghai) and people there didn't really talk to me. Maybe it's because I'm Chinese and I didn't look lost. I think if you go to a place where youngsters hang out, you'll be able to start conversations easily. So try cafes, acrades, and stuff like that. Also, if you're foreign looking, I think people will approach you and try to help you (regardless of if you need help). 

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  • 2 months later...

I've been to Shanghai for a couple of weeks, then Guangzhou for two more weeks. If you're a tall westerner "snowflake" or "ghost", you can go to any big supermarket where you can expect to be approached by beautiful young ladies who will chase you down in order to practice their English Language skills! One of the first questions they will ask you is where you are from. If you answer "I'm from England" or "I'm a New Yorker", they will be very keen to chat with you for as long as they have time to spare. If you tell them what I did, they will lose interest very quickly! Saying to them, "G'day Luv, I'm from Down Under", will make them disappear back into the crowd so fast you will be left wondering what just happened!

If you start talking to street vendors, be prepared to part with a good deal of your money very quickly. They sell cheap to locals, but bargain harder with Westerners! Taking classes is much more cost-efficient, but you can learn a lot of things from street vendors which you would never learn in classes!  

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