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The Best Way to Learn Business Chinese

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The reasons why doing business in China is apparent: 1.3 billion people, of which over 300 million are middle class consumers (a portion that is rapidly growing each year); and WTO membership and a booming economy with a growth rate averaging around 9%. Naturally the need to learn business Chinese grows quickly. For those who are doing business with Chinese people all day, an efficient way to grasp the language is very important. This article introduces the best way to learn business Chinese.

First question: Does business Chinese exist? What’s the difference between business Chinese and ‘normal’ Chinese?

The answer is yes and no.

Business Chinese does exist for the different vocabulary used compared to that of daily Chinese. Let’s compare the business Chinese vocabulary and its counterpart in daily Chinese.

English                                       Oral Chinese                                     Business Chineseask

ask                                                  问wèn                                          询问xún wèn,咨询 zīxún

reserve                                           订dìng                                           预定yùdìng ,预留yùliú

excuse me                               请问qǐngwèn,对不起duìbuqǐ              打扰一下儿dǎrǎo yíxiàr

make an appointment                   见面jiànmiàn                                      约见yuējiàn

pay a visit                                       来lái                                                    拜访bàifǎng

 tell                                                 告诉gàosu                                             吩咐fēnfù

discuss                                           说shuō                                                  探讨tàntǎo

famous                                           有名yǒumíng                                         知名zhīmíng

business                                         生意shēngyì                                           业务yèwù

From this table, we can see the huge difference between the daily Chinese and business Chinese for the same word. Basically, business Chinese uses more formal and traditional vocabulary to show formality and politeness. Also, business Chinese adopts a different sentence structure, too.

However, some people think business Chinese does not exist because when you are doing business with Chinese people, speaking only business Chinese cannot guarantee your success. The way you speak in a business situation is actually quite the same as how you speak in everyday life, only technical terms are involved in business Chinese. The only solution to this is to keep learning standard and pay special attention to business Chinese vocabulary.

Second step: Use what kind of material when learning business Chinese?

My suggestion is to study by the following topics:

- Arriving in China

- Dining and lodging

- Money matters

- Asking the way

- Making an appointment and visiting

- Introducing the company

- Marketing

- Business consultation

- Visiting a company

- Business negotiation

- Signing a contract

- Saying goodbye

For example, when you are learning the first topic “Arriving in China,” any traditional text book will teach you how to introduce yourself. In addition to this, to arrange your business schedule properly it is highly important to know how the business week is structured and be aware of holidays in the country you are visiting. Chinese work from Monday to Friday and rest on Saturday and Sunday. However China has many festivals as official national holidays. For instance, National Day is a three-day holiday. Together with the two weekend days before and after, the three-day holiday can be lengthened into a seven-day holiday. That’s why National Day is called ‘Golden Week’ in China. In addition, the Chinese government now has three days for Spring Festival, and one day for the Dragon Boat Festival, Tomb-sweeping Festival, and New Year’s Day.

Then, you can follow the same approach when learning how to make a self-introduction. But don’t forget, when greeting people on business occasions, use the formal greeting expression of ‘Nice to meet you!’:

- 很高兴见到您!Hěn gāoxing jiàndào nín! or

- 幸会幸会! Xìnghuì xìnghuì!

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