I have Chinese friends and whenever we get together they want to speak English when I really want to practice my Chinese. Does anyone have any tips?

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I know the feeling Matt, ran into the same problem once.  What I did was make a deal with my friends, what we did was agree to talk for half the time in Chinese and half the time in English.  With another friend we agreed that I would only use Chinese and he would only use English, that was more or less a competition between us.  As one day he told me, "my English is better than your Chinese"  which prompted us to challenge each other.  However now whenever we meet we're talking more Chinese, guess I won, huh?  hahaha  Hope that helps somewhat.  the only other thing I would suggest is that when you speak your Chinese with them challenge them in a way that you're learning more about culture or things of interests to you, slip the easy stuff, you know what I mean?  Good luck!!  加油!


As Michael said, when you speak Chinese, aim for more complicated topics (or explain around them based on your level of vocabulary), so that your friends have more of an incentive to reply in their native tongue. Even if you cannot fully understand the reply, this method would be good for your listening skills. This is because, if you use easier topics (eg favourite food, colour) they will likely use English as these topics are of no strain to them and can be easily used in their second language. 

Also, besides your established Chinese friends, I would also recommend a form of social skydiving by talking with Chinese people who don't speak any English (or very little). This forces you to use Chinese. Based on your picture, I can see you've been to China (The Great Wall, of course). As you know, aside from major tourist sites and perhaps students or intellectuals (in the big cities), most Chinese people speak no English (or only a few words). Although, this may seem intimidating, bare in mind that you'll probably never see those strangers again and can thus get good practice out of them. Also, despite speaking no English, many Chinese will quickly approach you and use the only English words they know (eg Hello, Welcome!), so you don't have to worry about awkwardly walking up to them. Have a set approach in mind  (eg a polite introduction and a fixed set of pleasantries) and open the conversation with a statement of the obvious  (eg It's so hot today!, So windy, etc) and the conversation will expand from there. Also, if you have time, go to the countryside (Hebei province, in general, is a good start as it's near Beijing). Out there, Chinese is a must! 

Hope this helps! ----David J 


That's also something I forgot to mention that David said, go and do some social skydiving.  Near where I live here in China, these is a small art gallery owned by a couple who are artist and I'm also an artist.  I walked and met the lady and used the little Chinese I knew and started a conversation with her, a challenge but she also knew pi n yin which helped but her and her husband spoke no English.  but between her writing pinyin, we were able to communicate pretty good.  I also bring my tablet when I go there because I'll have her husband write the characters he says on my tablet and then reply.  long story short, my Chinese really started to take off and you'll then find out how incredibly friendly and warm Chinese people really are then. so now when I go there we no longer use pinyin and they're always complementing me about my Chinese level, of course I always say; nali nali.  Like David also said go to the countryside too, when I was in Guilin I met so many artists, especially when they heard me  speak Chinese.  Go for it Matt!

Thanks for the help guys! I'm actually back in the US but when I was in China I tried to talk to as many people as possible. I will try to talked to him about speaking half english and half Chinese. I've actually seen a huge difference since I got back from China. My friend sees that my Chinese has gotten a lot better so its its like he trusts me when speaking Chinese now because he can tell I understand a lot more. 

哈哈 我也有美国朋友。 我也想学好英文,他们也想学好汉语。所以我很理解你,也有类似的困惑。

我的想法是 彼此接触新的东西,然后互相教对方。如果纯粹的设定一段时间说英文,一段时间说中文,只是让自己已经学会的东西更加熟练而已,而不是提高到一个新的水平。




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