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Adapting for Special Needs Overseas - Call for Essays

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Beijing



How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You have to have some Chinese. Tutors run from $15 to $40 per hour. Lots of language schools are also available. Classes run about $15 a class. Learn some basic phrases before coming! - Oct 24, 2017
You need it. This is the least English-friendly place I've ever been. It's much worse than Shanghai and a little worse than Guangzhou. I've found people here often understand more English than they let on, but they refuse to speak it. You might find success speaking slow, simple English to someone who is responding in Chinese, or you might not. Some of the best restaurants also lack English menus, which can be challenging even if you've taken Chinese classes. - Dec 3, 2015
Quite a lot. Most lower cost household help doesn't speak any English, taxi drivers don't speak English, market shop owners no English, etc. - Apr 12, 2015
Obviously, it's better if you know some Mandarin but I don't get language training prior to arriving at Post. Only Generalists receive 6-10 months of full-time language training for their tour. Specialists don't have that luxury. Anyone can get a 2 hours per week class while at Post but it's not an easy language to learn. I survive without knowing Chinese but have to live with some inconvenience. - Aug 17, 2014
I have very little Chinese (I've been taking the EFM classes twice a week since we arrived) and it is really hard. Most people do not speak English and the language is very hard to read so you can definitely feel very frustrated and isolated if you do not have the language. We have to be organized and well prepared when we go out and about with directions, taxi cards, etc. since if we do get lost, it is typically up to us to figure something out. I think it would be very helpful to have some basic Chinese before arriving. - Jul 18, 2014
The more the better - Jun 19, 2013
Quite a bit. Everyone either: 1) Doesn't speak English; or 2) Doesn't want to try the English they know. Even if you speak Chinese decently, you will still encounter people who refuse to understand you simply because you're a foreigner. You will need at least a little Chinese to interact successfully with your housekeeper. - Aug 27, 2011
A good amount and you will still not be able to funcion - Apr 7, 2011
You can get by without knowing any, because most signage is in English and Chinese. You won't make many Chinese friends or get close to the culture, though. After 6 months of living here without language skills, I'm now spending 10 hour a week taking Chinese lessons. It's sufficiently disruptive and isolating not to speak the language to merit this much of a time investment. - Jan 18, 2011
You must learn to speak on some level if you want to leave the house. Lots of service workers speak a smattering of English - but lots more don't. - Apr 29, 2010
You need the basics to be polite, shop, take taxies etc. - Jan 26, 2010