Doing business in your own country can be a challenge, expanding your operations to a new country abroad can be even more challenging! While taking in cultural, financial, and legal considerations are all important, overcoming the language barrier is arguably the most difficult challenge every businessman in China faces. Not being able to communicate with your international suppliers or customers can be hugely detrimental to your business, and ultimately harm the growth of your business or brand. With a staggering 96% of the world’s consumers residing outside of the USA, it’s easy to understand why overcoming and understanding things like the Chinese language barrier will be essential to your businesses success in places like China and the rest of Asia.
Before you rush out and sign up for the next Chinese language course, here are some of the tried and tested techniques to use on your next trip to China:
Understand which language is being spoken
There are many countries around the world which have multiple national languages. South Africa, for example, has a staggering 11 official languages, whilst popular business and tourist destinations like Singapore and Switzerland have four official languages. China is no different, Mandarin might be country’s most official language, but Cantonese is still prevalent in many of China’s central business districts like Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
Knowing which languages are spoken in the region of China you’re visiting allows you to learn phrases and begin effective discussions or even marketing campaigns in your customer’s local language.
This also shows respect and admiration, since you’ve taken the time to learn and understand the local customs and language.
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Use an interpreter
Both Mandarin and Cantonese are difficult languages to get to grips with in a short time, as they differ so vastly from English or any of the Latin derivatives. A popular method to overcoming the Chinese language barrier is making use of an interpreter to convey your message across accurately.
In China specifically, there are a number of online classified ads for interpreters and translators. The risk with finding an interpreter via the classifieds is you will be dealing with an individual, who you cannot be certain will be able to portray your message accurately once you arrive.
One of the easiest ways to make use of an interpreter to overcome the Chinese language barrier is utilising the services of a professional and reliable transport company who provide you with English speaking drivers capable of relaying and understanding any message you wish to portray.
Use technology to help you
Google Translate is still one of your best online resources to help break the language barrier since it’s simple and basic. But it has some other powerful features as well, like offering a native speaker’s pronunciation of a word or phrase.
It’s worth remembering that China’s ‘great firewall’ is still very much in effect throughout the country. If you can’t live without your Facebook feed, Instagram account or more than likely your Gmail account, you’ll need to install a VPN on your phone or device to bypass China’s internet restrictions. It is important to note that even with a VPN, the Internet speed in China will be far worse than what you’re used to. Android phones are also particularly affected in China as most of their main functions are Google-driven while iPhones luckily aren’t as affected.