By Ling-Ling Lisa Shih
My native language is Chinese. I speak English here in the U.S. No big deal. Non-native English speakers here in the U.S. are expected to learn and speak English. English has been a lingua franca, so native English speakers don’t feel anything special if you can speak their language fluently.
It is a completely different story if you are a non-native Chinese speakers speaking Chinese. I guarantee that you will immediately befriend Chinese people wherever you go! They understand that you have made a real effort learning their language.
I am teaching Chinese in the U.S. for many years. American students tend to opt for other foreign language such as Spanish or French; even if they have selected Chinese as their foreign language, many of them did not continue their Chinese language study once they satisfy their course requirement in foreign language.
You can imagine why it is so special for Chinese to hear you speak in their native tongue. They will usually show a genuine appreciation that you use their language to converse with them. See the video below how friendly these Chinese had shown to the guy when he talked to them in their language.
Nelson Mandela is so right in saying this: If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
Only a smaller percentage of people persevere to develop proficiency in Chinese. They will continue to be treated with special warmth by Chinese people.
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.