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November 23, 2011

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Expats enrol in popular dialect course

Every week around 30 expats pack a classroom at Shanghai Tongji University to learn practical, "survival" Shanghai dialect.

The course became popular in 2006 after it was revised to make it more relevant and focus on spoken Shanghainese. The course launched in 1998 didn't have many takers at the beginning because it was didactic, theory-oriented and didn't emphasize the living, spoken language. Many students found it boring.

Today students are from all over the world, including Western countries, Japan and many other countries.

They learn to say "Where are you from?" "I am Shanghainese" and various useful phrases.

The course makes life easier by helping students communicate with locals. Use of dialect, even a little, is an ice breaker and wins points for the speaker. Dialect is very colorful and gives insight into Shanghai culture, including many customs that no longer exist.

Some out-of-town Chinese also sit in on the dialect class to help them integrate better into city life.


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