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How many people in China can speak English? – Quora

According to research that Ive discovered, about 456 million are learning English now (in 2016). 200 million of those are primary and secondary school age. There are about 10 million people in China who are fluent. Thats less than 1% of the population (the second lowest percentage of English speakers out of all countries in the world). Listening and speaking, the first two aspects of natural language learning, is rarely taught. Ive taught about 7,000 students and have conducted 4,200+ classes, seminars, lectures and presentations on English learning in China. Ive trained hundreds of Chinese English teachers. Ive been featured on national television (CCTV-9) more than 40 times. I have 12,000 students who follow me on a daily practice lesson (practicing every day oral English) on WeChat, the primary social media platform in China. I am an official expert (I dont claim that. They do.) for China Daily, the largest English language newspaper in Asia (they print a million newspapers a day). Ive heard of teachers who were chosen to start teaching English who, themselves, were taking beginning classes in English. English training centers are really quite inferior and exist for the sole purpose of making money. Ive had a dozen invitations to partner with such centers, all of which, I turned down. English training in China is far from what it needs to be.

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Of course, it depends on who you are talking to and where you are.Generally, I had an easier time finding someone who could speak English when I approached younger people, as even the educated and successful older Chinese businessmen did not speak much English. It also depends on where you are.

Because Chinese pinyin uses the Latin alphabet, all can read the letters, but putting it into English words is another story.

It was surprising for me when Taxi drivers and food stalls turned away my business. Yet, they didnt have any idea what I was saying, and there were long lines of locals queued up they were not hurting for people to serve, and didnt have the time to try to figure out what I was saying.

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English is really difficult for me and most of the Chinese people. Vocabulary and grammar are a bit difficult. But speaking is more difficult an listening is extremely difficult. I remember in one video the man pronounced valuable like maluable. In another video the man pronouncedAs an adult like æ sen næ dəu which made me have no ideas with what he said.

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In mainland of China, actually, even those English Major students in Universities, they cannot speak fluent English with western people because they have few opportunities to employ English in their daily life.Not even say those elderly people, they have never learnt English when they were young and they do not need to use English when they work. It is extremely difficult to find an old man who can speak fluent English. However, more people pay attention to English education on their children so it would be easier to talk to a kid in English.

I guess lets start with categories of people.

). My personal experience is that, to have minimal usable English skills, one has to pass at least band 4 (I got an A grade from CET 4 without preparation, and I was only able to do very little things meaningful in English at that time.). This is the best indicator I can find for ones English skill since other tests are either too simple (e.g. college entrance exam) or not representative (e.g. SAT, GRE etc. ). Since first the passing rate of CET 4 is only 1/5 among the all enrolled college students in recent years, second the English education in China has been improving dramatically and third Chinese colleges have produced roughly 40 million college graduates since 1977 when the government reopened Universities,

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The air quality in Xian was terrible, and after walking miles drenched in toxic fumes, I was discouraged and drained when multiple taxis wouldnt give me a ride. I was surprised to find that very few Taxi drivers spoke English. It was disorienting having multiple people turn away cash. Thankfully, I made my way to a Hilton, where the concierge called a Didi Chuxing ride for me. I paid the concierge the cash, and got a ride back.

we can estimate there are less than 10 million people in China who have enough English skills to do something meaningful (e.g. reading newspapers without headache).

2. People who have good English skills and college degree but graduated before 1966.

I really enjoyed my time in Xian, which is a gorgeous city. I ventured out to explore the Bell Tower and inside the City Wall. without a tour guide.

4. People who had poor English skill when in college but improved significantly later. (I only see the opposite in people around me.)

With the largest population in the world nearly 1.4 billion people and, an economy that has grown immensely over the past decades, there are ample job opportunities where Mandarin is sufficient. English is perceived as being of little use. (Source:What about English in China?)

b) the difficulty of the language (nobody would seriously expect the majority of Americans to be able to learn Chinese, and English is not easier for the Chinese)

, Native English Speaker, traveled to China in 2017 & 2018

the vast majority of Chinese people is unable to speak English. When I was in Beijing in 2004, many people on the street greeted me Hello, how are you? and werent able to answer Im fine, and you?. Some market vendors were familiar with the numbers at least, the rest typed numbers on calculators for non-verbal communication. This was in a major city and at/near touristy spots; I shudder to think what it would look like in more rural areas.

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Very few. I dont know the exact data but I dare to claim that its fewer than 2%. Though many Chinese people learn English at school for many years, but what we learn is mostly vocabulary and grammar. When it comes to the conversation, except for things like Hello or Thank you, the majority of us cant hold even a simple one.

1. People who have good English skills but no college degree.

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Some people, like me, struggle to learn to SPEAK English and improve the listening skills after entering the college. Even so, many of us still have difficulty holding a long and deep conversation. And I find it still difficult to understand what people say if their speech is so fast. Also, our English diction is not very native. Some people has told me that my English is a bit Chinese and upon seeing (let alone listening) my written sentences, they get to know that it cant be from an Anglophone.

Elderly:Quite rare to find elderly who speak English, unless theyre an academic scholar or traveled for business.

Still have a question? Ask your own!

I recently traveled to China and was told that around 2% of people in mainland China can speak English.Based on my experiences, that seemed about right. In Hong Kong I had no trouble finding English speakers, as English is anofficial languageof Hong Kong. However, it is difficult navigating mainland China as an English only speaker.

Talking to those who live in developed cities, such as, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, you may find it is much more easier to communicate with them in English. Especially those districts, Hongkong, Macau, Taiwan, where are not in the mainland of China. I had a trip to HK and Macau before. In these two places, you can easily find someone who speak fluent English even they work in tea restaurant. They speak both Cantonese and English in their daily life. Unlike mainland of China who speak Mandarin in their every day life.

It dependswhere you areand who you talk to.However, I think 70% Chinese cannot speak fluent English. Most people can say some very simple sentences, e.g. ok; how are you; thank you, etc.

Can very many people speak English?

Ill start by saying Ive worked and lived in China for about 5 years.

How many people in China can speak English?

Unsuprisingly, concierges at Western Hotels were mostly fluent in English, and it was easier finding an English speaker in Shanghai than Chengdu.The baristas at Starbucks were able to take my order, but when I asked them for directions, their ability to communicate quickly dropped off. Many younger people at the train stations and airports spoke fluent English and the ticket agents at the train stations and airport spoke basic English.

China has a national college English exam called CET (

Here I assume following groups are not significant

English tourism is simply not a substantial part of the Chinese economy and most Chinese businesses do fine without any English speakers.

The real question, is how many people can speak English well. And what is your definition of speak English? Id say a larger percentage than you think can speak some English. You first have to understand that Chinese people will act modest and say they cant speak English, when in fact, theyll know a vocabulary of around a 1000 words, but they dont want to embarrass themselves and try.

SAR: Hong kong, Macau; TaiwanDeveloped cities(Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, etc) in Mainland of ChinaDeveloping cities in Mainland of China

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Adults:From age 35+ is the age that I find generally doesnt speak English, unless theyre well educated, or they have a job that requires some English. Even then, you never really know, as it really depends. The older they get, the less likely they speak English unless theyre educated.

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Students (Younger):This one really depends, but more and more younger students are learning English. Once again, Ive had young people, around the age of 1516, who are playing basketball with me, tell me they cant speak English. Then well sit down and have a conversation in Chinese, and Ill find them saying a few words here or there of English. Then Ill ask them some basic questions, and theyll try to speak. Of course the rich families send their kids to schools to learn, but even the kids of factory families know some English.

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While in China, my husbandJaywanted to see the Terracotta soldiers, located just outside of Xian. The Terracotta soldiers are one of the biggest tourist sites in the world, and we easily booked an English speaking guide. However, most of the Tour groups were Chinese. There were a few English groups, but not nearly as many as Ive seen at major tourist sites outside of China.

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However, in the south in Zhuhai, near the border with Macau, a city of approximately 1 million people has countless numbers of people who can speak some English.

Here are my pictures from theTerracotta Army.

This knowledge of English gives a great advantage to the Chinese, since they know MUCH more about the western world and how it works, than westerners know about how China works.

3. People who skipped Chinese college to study in western Universities.

The greatest irony is that while the Americans pushed for globalization for so long, the average American knows much less about China, while the Chinese have the globalization advantage and they are the ones driving the agenda now.

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Students (University):The level ranges, however all university students can speak a little English. Some will act shy and say they cant, but once you can lift that veil, youd be surprised. Generally, theyll have a large vocabulary, however theyve never had the opportunity to speak, as they just learn English words for their college entrance examination.

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, English Expert For China Daily newspaper

I have noticed that the degree of fluency varies a great deal from city to city. Shanghai is much better than Hong Kong for example. But if you listen to what some Shanghainese say, they will deny that they are really Chinese, just as many other Chinese will deny that Shanghai is a part of China.

It also depends where you are in China. In the south, specifically Guangdong youre much more likely to meet someone who can speak English. In the north, unless youre near one of the more famous cities, the chances are much smaller. Even when I lived in Qingdao, approximately 710 million people depending on what you count as part of the city, very few people spoke any English.

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, Have lived in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong; fluent in Mandarin (written, spoken)English teacher since 1997, taught and enabled many Chinese students to go to overseas schoolsI would say that it is several hundred million who can read some English, with probably 50-150M who have some degree of spoken fluency. The most fluent come from the best universities.

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