When my daughters first started learning English (as well as myself!) they were scared to actually use their words with real foreigners since they would be embarrassed. I would always tell them, "Don't be shy, just try!"
I offer the same advice to you my dear visitors. To get you started, below are ten words that will get you far in China. When you try to speak the language a bit, everyone you meet from taxi drivers to shopkeepers will smile and treat you just a little bit better.
A quick intro to Chinese. Mandarin uses four different tones, so the same word might have four different meanings depending on how you say it. Looking at the pic above:
Tone 1: High tone - ma = mother
Tone 2: Rising - ma = hemp
Tone 3: Falling/rising - ma =horse
Tone 4: Falling - ma =scold
So if you say it wrong, you might think you're saying "My mother visits tomorrow," but actually saying "My horse visits tomorrow." Sounds crazy, right? But don't worry.. Don't be shy, just try!
Here are the ten words/phrases:
- Hello: Nǐhǎo (Nee how)
- Thank you: Xièxiè (Shieh-shieh)
- You're welcome: Bù kèqì (Boo kuh-chi)
- Waiter/waitress: Fú Wù Yuán! (Foo oo yawn)
- How much?: Duō shǎo? (Dwuh shauw?)
- Check, please: Măi dān (My dahn)
- Goodbye: Zàijiàn (Zhai-jian)
- No, I don't want: Bù Yào (Boo yow)
- I don't understand: Wǒ bù dǒng (Wuh boo dong)
- Where is the bathroom: Xǐshǒujiān zài nǎlǐ? (See-sow-jian zai na-lee?) (Ok.. that ones a little hard :)
There are so many videos and websites... don't be shy... just Google!
I hope to see you soon in China and we can help you practice.