Its wonderful to speak languages other than English. If only just to connect with people you encounter in day to day life. Obviously it takes time and dedication to learn an new language properly, and very very worthwhile, however I think a few words here and there are fantastic to have up your sleeve.
Living in Australia, asian languages in particular are vitally important and will help you connect with people around you.
Speaking of which, the Australian Government have just released a White Paper entitled ‘Australia in the Asian Century’, you can find it here. It is a very strong paper which will guide Australia in the coming years to strengthen Australia’s deep and broad relationships across our region. Particularly impressive is the commitment to education. Its comforting because I strongly believe that Australia has a long history of being uncomfortable in our own skin (refusing to be considered “Asian” despite location and trade, steadfastly tending to our little patches of lawn and rose beds hoping like crazy that a little piece of England will survive the harsh summer). Have a read and let me what you think. If you like I’ll write a follow up post about the paper once I’ve had a thorough read.
Mandarin is a particularly useful one, especially if you love chinese retaurants. I can tell you from experience that you get much better service (and probably better food too!) if you can drop a few words of Chinese in whilst you order. People will love to go out for chinese with you!
Chinese is tricky because the pronunciation is different to English letters so hopefully this will help.
English – Mandarin (Pinyin) – Phonetically for English speakers
Hello – Ni hao – Nee how
Good bye – Zaijian – Zai zeen-en
Thank you – XieXie – Share Share (quite quick)
Yes – Dui – Dway
No – Bu dui – Boo dway
Excellent thank you! – Hao ijle xiexie – How jee-luh share share
Cheers! – Gan bei – Gan bay
I’m sorry – Dui buqi – Doo-ay boo chee
Tea Please!- cha qing- chah ch(as in cheap)ing (think, cha ching!)
Bill please – mai dan – my dan
Aiya! – ay yah! You can use this any time you are slightly suprised, instead of “oh no!”, something odd happens, a calamity ensues etc. they will LOVE it.