When a Chinese takes an English course – These are the expressions you are going to hear


Chinese language is categorized into various different types of sub-languages and dialects, for example, Wu, Cantonese and Taiwanese. About 70% of the Chinese population speak Northern Chinese; also known as Mandarin, which is also an authorized language for all the Chinese people. English and Chinese have marked variances as they belong to entirely different groups of languages. For people who speak Chinese, this difference makes picking the correct English course Singapore very problematic.


Chinese language comprises of symbols instead of letters. This system of writing gets known as logographic and is used to represent different characters, which make up the symbols. This marks the biggest difference between English language, where alphabets are used to from words.


The English language results in a lot of difficulty for Chinese in learning English. There are a few English phonemes that are not present in the Chinese language. The expressions for stress and pitch are diverse. Chinese language gets expressed through tone and pitch, unlike English. The higher and lower note of a word is used to differentiate the meaning, entirely. English does not have that.

English contains more vowels than Chinese. This leads them to the wrong intonation of the words containing vowels, for example, “ship” becomes “sheep”, “it” becomes “eat” and “full” ends up becoming “fool”. When two vowels are combined to make diphthongs, the words usually become shorter.

It gets hard for the Chinese people to differentiate between I and R, which results in them pronouncing these words wrong. “Rake” becomes “Lake” and “rice” becomes “lice.” The same trouble happens to be present among Southern Chinese people who mix the letters I and N.

They cannot comprehend the words that end with a consonant, as this feature does not exist in Chinese. This result in them not adding the consonant or putting another vowel with the last alphabet of the word, for example, “hill” may end up without the double L or some other vowel being added to it at the end, something rhyming with “killer”.


The verb and tense carry a significant meaning in English language, such as is/are/were, eat/ate/eats/eaten, etc. However, in Chinese, this isn’t the case. It is an adjustable language that shares the information through a sequence of words, adverbs or communal decisions regarding the situation.

The following is a list of very common verb/tense errors:

  • What do you do? (i.e. what are you doing?) (incorrect tense)
  • I will call you as soon as I will get there. (wrong tense)
  • She has got married last Saturday. (incorrect tense)
  • She good teacher. (omitted copula)
  • How much you pay for your car? (omitted auxiliary)
  • I wish I am rich. (indicative instead of subjunctive)

Modal verbs are used in English to indicate different levels of meaning and expression of a person. Note the tone in the commands given below:

  • Open the window, please.
  • Could you open the window, please?
  • Would you mind opening the window, please?

As Chinese language does not have such levels of modal verbs, the Chinese people fail to understand its importance in English, resulting in them being abrupt and rigid about giving proposals or expressing demands.

Better work on your own Chinese first

Before you laugh at the way the Chinese speak English, you had better work hard on your Mandarin. A native Chinese speaker will often find it a challenge to learn English but on the other hand, learning to speak Mandarin for a native English speaker is also a torture. For an English speaker, it can be easier to learn German because it shares a common trait with English. German phonetics and pronunciations are rather comfortable for English speakers. However, Mandarin is a totally different thing because it does not have an alphabet but relies on the symbols of the logographic to represent words.

Why do you need to improve your Mandarin speaking skills?

dragon-152718_640The Chinese language is beautiful and mysterious and many have been interested to learn the language because of the unique writing system. However, more than anything else, the most obvious reason is for personal gain because Chinese businesses can be found everywhere and it is an advantage to be able to speak Mandarin. Over the last decade, China has become powerful and many foreigners are motivated to learn the language as it gives them an edge in the job market. Even corporate executives make an effort to learn Mandarin because it makes it easier to deal with Chinese investors. After the first level of Mandarin language learning course, an individual has the option to learn business Mandarin. If you are in Singapore whose population is predominantly Chinese, you better work in improving your Mandarin skills. You will soon realize how economically advantageous it is be able to converse in Mandarin even if you fail to speak it fluently.

How can you improve your Mandarin speaking skills?

There is no dearth for Mandarin learning schools in Singapore. You have a wide range of options from schools that are affiliated to universities and private schools that offer an intensive learning process that will allow you to speak Mandarin in the shortest time possible. If it is your first time to study Mandarin, you start from level one where you will learn the basics and practical aspects of the language. You can try a free class before get admission to any course. After completing the conversational Mandarin course, you can proceed to the business Mandarin course where your fluency in Mandarin can be enhanced. You can gain the ability to talk in the Chinese language with confidence. The business Mandarin course is ideal for businessmen who have set their sights on doing business with the Chinese. Aside from the improvement in conversational Mandarin, the business course is designed to teach business correspondence and contract terms. A higher level can be customized to accommodate your needs and it can be tailored according the specific needs to support the business goals.

Studies have proven that many individuals make an effort to learn the Chinese language due to their rich history. The Chinese has a totally different culture with interesting traditions. It would be a good advantage to be able to speak Mandarin when you travel to China, Taipei and Hongkong as well as other countries in Southeast Asia where the Chinese language is widely spoken.

Fun visiting Shanghai

Shanghai is the largest city proper by population in the world and its population exceeded 24 million in 2013. The 6,340.5 km2 metropolis is located in the East of China, in the Yangtze River Delta, and it combines historical sites with modern architecture. It’s not difficult to guess that tourist attractions are endless in the city whose official flower is the Yulan magnolia. These are the top attractions you shouldn’t miss if you visit Shanghai:shanghai2

  • The Shanghai Museum

This museum of Ancient Chinese art is open every day from 9 AM to 5 PM and has a collection of over 120,000 objects, grouped in several permanent and temporary galleries. Exhibits include bronze, ceramics, sculpture, paintings, jades, seals, calligraphy, numismatics, crafts of Chinese minorities, and furniture.

  • The Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower

The 468 meters high tower is the 6th highest tower in the world and besides admiring its eleven steel spheres of different sizes, you have access to 3 main sightseeing floors. The highest sphere, called the Space Capsule, is 350 meters off the ground. Other attractions included in the Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower are a Fantasy World space, a restaurant, the aerial sightseeing corridor where you walk on transparent glass, and the Shanghai Municipal History Museum.

  • The Nanjing Road

No trip is complete without shopping, and you will find plenty of interesting items on the 5.5 km long shopping street called the Nanjing Road. There are more than 600 businesses operating there, including famous brands, international fast-food chains, and traditional stores from where you can purchase jade, clock, embroidery, silk and other Chinese goods.

  • The Shanghai Aquarium

The main attraction at the Shanghai Aquarium is Bruce, a huge goldfish which is 43,5 cm (17 inches) long. Here you will be able to visit the world’s longest underwater tunnel and view a wide selection of Asian fish.

  • The World Financial Tower

The World Financial Tower is the second highest building in Shanghai; it is 492 meters high and it includes 104 floors (three of them are underground). The building hosts observation decks, offices, hotels, conference rooms, and commercial centers. The highest observation deck is at 474 m above ground, on the 100th floor.

  • The Shanghai Maglev Train

This magnetic suspension train is used for both transport and touristic purposes, and its speed reaches 430 km/h. The line between the Long Yang Stop of the no. 2 subway and the Pu Dong International Airport is 30 km long and is covered in just 8 minutes.

  • The Yuyuan Garden and Bazaar

The Yuyuan Garden was considered for a long time the best garden in southeast China and it has been established four centuries ago, during the Ming dynasty. The garden has a five acres surface, and in spite of its small size, it abounds in attractions like halls, rockeries, cloisters, ponds, and pavilions. At the garden’s entrance, there is a 14 meters tall rockery, called the Great Rockery, which is the oldest and the largest attraction of its kind in the southern region of Yangtze.

There are dozens of other places where you can have fun in Shanghai, but we have included in our list only some of the most important and representative destinations. What other places would you include on a short list of Shanghai tourist sites?

The Chinese are learning English in ever larger numbers

It has been estimated that more than 300 million Chinese people are learning or have learned English, and there are different levels of English literacy, depending on the foreign speakers’ contact with English culture and on teaching methods. China has had a long history of emphasizing the advantages of learning English, and China is definitely the world’s biggest market for English as a foreign language. Let’s start with some statistics!

  • In 2009, 300 million Chinese people were studying English or spoke English, which is almost equal to the population of the United States;
  • There are 100,000 native English speakers teaching English in China;
  • The largest numbers of English speakers are found in large cities like Beijing and Shanghai, where many companies are hold by foreign investors;
  • Chinese people spent almost $5 billion on English lessons in 2012;
  • Many Chinese students are learning English with the purpose of passing tests. While more than half of the students in Chinese universities not majoring in English spend a lot of time studying the language, less than 5% of all Chinese university students are actually able to carry a conversation in English;
  • Passing tests like TOEFL, IELTS or CET helps young people become eligible for well-paid jobs in high-status organizations.

Chinese students learning EnglishStats suggest that, in spite of English being extremely popular in China as a foreign language, the teaching methods and the purposes of studying English are often inappropriate. China encourages studying English as part of its efforts to promote internationalism, but many people are not using English at their jobs and not even all teachers are fluent in English themselves.

One of the most common teaching methods is memorization, and oftentimes, students are not required to create any original phrases, but rather to be able to reproduce a large number of standard sentences.

In this context, many experts consider that the Chinese should re-evaluate their reasons for studying English and the learning methods they use. Many job opportunities in China don’t actually require English and people end up forgetting the little English language knowledge they had. Many Chinese universities have given up the English test requirement as part of their admission process, and there are more and more voices claiming that the absurd English-mania should come to an end.

These changes should have a positive effect on Chinese learners, as teachers will be liberated from the obligation to prepare students for examinations and will be able to focus more on communication. Moving the focus from quantity to quality may produce less impressive statistics, as the number of people studying English will probably drop, but it’s better to have a smaller number of speakers who are actually able to carry a conversation than taking pride in large numbers of students who cannot say or understand anything in English but several standard phrases.

5 funniest examples of Chinglish

“Lost in translation” could have been another title for this post, but we decided to stick for “5 funniest examples of Chinglish” which was more informative.

If you speak a foreign language, you must have heard too about idiomatic expressions, which make no sense or sound funny if you translate them word by word to another language. Different languages use different word orders and what sounds legit in your language may sound preposterous in other idioms.

Have fun with our next examples of Chinglish, the English spoken by Chinese people (called in Chinese 中式英语 – zhōng shì yīng yǔ).


  1. True, but doesn’t it sound weird?
  2. Somebody’s made a big confusion
  3. A park in need of activists. Or was it an ethnic park?
  4. Don’t be rude!
  5. Good piece of advice

But how is it possible to make such humorous mistakes? Chinese and English are completely different languages and the cultural background of the Chinese also influences the way they speak English. Besides translating Chinese to English word by word, the authors of these funny Chinglish examples may have also been influenced by their different thinking patterns, by using outdated dictionaries and English textbooks or by using automatic translation without post-editing.

Even the name of our blog, “To take notice of safe”, is another example of Chinglish, which should have been: ”Pay attention to safety”.

Aside from the funny part of Chinese meeting English, it’s good to know that there are around 1,000 English words of Chinese origin, included in the Oxford English Dictionary, such as “feng shui”,” ketchup”, ”mahjong”, “wok”, or” typhoon”. The phrase “Long time no see” is one of the English calques derived from Chinese (a literal translation of the Chinese equivalent hǎo jiǔ bú jiàn (好久不见), so it looks we are not less guilty, either.