BEIJING, March 12 -- WhileEnglish-speaking foreigners in Shanghai might have trouble shopping in some of the city's large malls, they should have no problems at several clothing markets around it.
Whenever a foreign customer appears in front of their booth, vendors take the initiative to greet and bargain freely with them in English. Some even talk other foreign languages, including Japanese, French and Spanish.
It isn't unusual to hear vendors calling out "Hello, would you have a look at my bags and jackets?" in many clothing markets, including the underground Yatai Shenghui Shopping Square and the Dongjiadu Lu Fabric Market.
Many vendors have mastered more than a few English sentences and can help customers select goods and answer their questions.
"We have no teachers. We learned it all by ourselves," said one of the Yatai Shenghui vendors surnamed Zhang, adding that almost all the vendors in the market were able to speak some foreign languages, at least English.
He explained that vendors voluntarily picked up foreign language study books to learn some words and expressions for sake of their businesses. Customers from different countries have helped them learn on the job.
While market vendors are learning English, few shop assistants in department stores around the city can speak the language.
"The English that market vendors speaks is simple, but it's enough for communication," said Rebecca Neilson, an Australian expat and a frequent patron of local clothing markets.
"Shop assistants in many big department stores are middle-aged with limited educational backgrounds. Learning English seems to be impossible for us," said Gao Jinping, a 43-year-old shop assistant at Yong'an Department Store.
As foreigners make up a small proportion of customers, stores would rather assistants improve business skills instead of English.
(Source: Shanghai Daily)