I believe the first question jumping out when a foreigner decide to relocate to Shanghai is, should I learn some Chinese to survive there? The variation of the question for people who can speak Chinese is, should I learn some Shanghainese?
I talked about it in my Oct article: Mandarin or Shanghainese?. Today, I received an email from Bryan:
I recently stumbled upon your blog and really relished those informative bits that you care to share with us. In fact, they are rather useful in helping me gain some understanding of Shanghai since I will be working there in May.
Coming from Singapore and of Chinese descent, I have heard of the importance of learning to speak the native tongue in order to begin to establish good relations with the local business folks. How true is that? While I can speak Chinese decently, I am really baffled by my Shanghainese friend when he speaks in his native tongue.
Do you know if there are any radio stations in Shanghai that dish out programs in the native tongue? How can I prepare myself somewhat adequately in the language basics before leaving for Shanghai?
I’d like to talk more about Shanghainese.
I Don’t Speak Shanghainese
After living here for 9 years, I still cannot say simple words of Shanghainese. This is the case for most of friends who are not native. I am able to understand some Shanghainese. This happened after 3 or 4 years after I am here, since I didn’t intentionally try to learn the language.
People Here Speak Shanghainese All the Time, But Not to Me
People here prefer to speak Shanghainese, as long as there is a chance. You can hear Shanghainese everywhere on the street. However, the good thing is, if they know you cannot understand Shanghainese, they will switch to Mandarin rapidly. I appreciate it.
No Shanghainese Radio Station
There is no Shanghainese Radio Station (so far as I know). The city is encouraging using mandarin as first language. Students are required to use mandarin at school so there is not many chances to learn the language. Everyone in the city (with higher education background) can speak mandarin.
Shanghainese – Nice to Know
Although it is not required to survive in the city, it is a great plus if you know some, especially for those whose native language is not Chinese. You will definitely surprise your friends here.