English in China.

English is definitely not enough to get around in China. It is second best to Chinese but it is far off the mark. We realised that as soon as we arrived in Hong Kong. And it just got worse as we went into mainland China.

Nevertheless, it seems to be a political will to encourage young Chinese to learn English. Posters boast about how they can give you a fulfilling life by teaching you English. Being an English teacher in China is a great asset. Schools will pay you well by Chinese standards and help you with sorting out your visa.

Young Chinese children are taught English in primary school, and when they see a foreigner like us they will try out their counting or a more risky “hello”. An all-girls English institute in Yangshuo holds a party every Thursday. The young teenagers go over town and invite any English speaking tourist they can find. The party is for them a way to practise their English.

Now Chinese obviously don’t always ask for help when translating to English. The resulting texts, even graved in stone are quite amusing. “Don’t stick your body outside” is interesting.

China has still a long way to go, but if they keep up the way they are going and accept to ask for some help, in a generation or so, travelling to China might be quite a bit easier… and Chinese will have opened up the world for themselves.

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