China is making a push to improve English education across the country, especially for the 2008 Olympics. However English is still not widely spoken. Most international companies doing business in China should have multi-lingual staff.

When attending meetings, it is a good idea to bring your own interpreter. Not all the conversation may be conducted in English. If you rely on an interpreter that is provided, you may find that not everything is translated or even properly translated.

Even with Chinese that speak English, it is wise to speak in short, simple, sentences. Avoid using colloquialisms, jargon or slang. Don't tell jokes, they rarely translate well. Pace your conversation, and give everyone a chance to catch up.

If you learn a few words of Chinese, it will go a long way. The locals will appreciate your effort. Make sure you practice speaking those phrases with someone fluent. Research your destination first to learn which language is appropriate; at least nine languages are spoken in China (Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghainese, Fuzhou, Hokkien-Taiwanese, Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages).

Chinese Characters