Want to learn Mandarin and find love at the same time? This light-hearted guide will show you how!
How can I improve my Chinese? How can I find a soulmate? If you are learning Mandarin Chinese and looking for romance these may well be burning questions in the back of your mind.
Learning a language and trying to find love can very often seem like tremendously difficult and seemingly insurmountable challenges. Both can sometimes be disheartening experiences that can require a lot of effort and a little bit of luck and courage!
Luckily enough, looking for love and learning Mandarin are not mutually exclusive! They don’t have to be gruelling tasks either. This guide will give you some brief insights into this unique way of learning a language.
Long gone are the days of sitting at home waiting for a call from Prince Charming whilst cooped up in your pyjamas with your Chinese textbook and a tub of ice-cream!
Going out into the big wide world away from the safety of your Chinese character learning cocoon to use your Mandarin in real life situations will not only give you more confidence in speaking the language, but also doubles your chances of meeting new people.
Here are 7 top tips on humorous and practical ways to improve your Mandarin whilst also trying out totally free dating…
Tread carefully, bad pick-up lines in Mandarin Chinese can be a recipe for disaster!
1. Corny Chat-up lines
The Chinese translation of chat-up lines is 搭讪的话 (Dāshàn dehuà), which literally means words with which to strike up a conversation.
Pick-up lines in any language are without a doubt, one of the cheesiest most cringe-worthy things there are.
If you are confident enough to use them in an informal environment though, they can sometimes be hilarious ice breakers and a great way to talk to new people. Even if you don’t end up finding love through corny pick-up lines, you may at least of had the chance to make some friends and improve your Mandarin by talking in a light-hearted setting.
Good and Bad Pick-up Lines
Here are some corny chat-up lines to sample. Whether or not they are good chat-up lines is for you to decide through a process of trial and error. Good luck!
甲发言人: 当时很痛吗？（Dāngshí hěn tòng ma？）
Speaker A: Did it hurt at the time?
乙发言人: 什么？ （Shénme？）
Speaker B: What?
甲发言人: 你从天上掉下来的时候。我觉得你长得像天使。(Nǐ cóng tiānshàng diào xiàlái de shíhòu. Wǒ juédé nǐ zhǎng dé xiàng tiānshǐ)
Speaker A: When you fell from the sky. You look like an angel.
甲发言人: 我手机号是多少？（Nǐ zhīdào wǒ shǒujī hào shì duōshǎo ma?）
Speaker A: What's my phone number?
乙发言人: 不知道 （Bù zhīdào）
Speaker B: I don't know [it].
甲发言人: 五二〇一三一四(Wǔ'èr líng yīsānyīsì)
Speaker A: 5201314
The Chinese characters, 五二〇一三一四 can also be read as 5201314. In Chinese mobile text language they also stand for the phrase, I will love you until the end of time, 我爱你一生一世 （Wǒ ài nǐ yīshēng yīshì)， due to the similarity in their pronunciations.
Mandarin Chinese language exchange, or something more...?
2. Conversation exchange
A language exchange can be one of the best ways to learn a language. Chinese language exchanges offer the opportunity to practice Chinese conversation with a native speaker in exchange for teaching them your own language.
You can make notes during your regular Speechling Chinese language coaching sessions about areas you would like to discuss with your language partner or ask your partner for top tips on bettering your Mandarin pronunciation.
It is always helpful to set a time limit to divide the time equally between both languages being exchanged to avoid one language taking priority over the other. Languages partners often lose interest if they feel they are simply using all their time to teach and none of their time to learn.
Many universities and language clubs have regular conversation exchange sessions or specific programs to help you find a language partner.
Alternatively you can also try signing up on one of the popular language exchange websites. Start off by meeting in a public place for a coffee and a bit of Mandarin conversation practice.
Who knows where that cup of coffee might lead you...
Little by little, you might even find that language exchanges are also a nifty way to find love without the pressure of dating. Take it from someone who knows, I ended up marrying my Chinese language partner!
Take your Mandarin to the mic! Appearing on TV can be one of the best ways to learn a language.
3. Watch Are You the One Online
If you don't already know by now, the Chinese version of Are You the One is one of the most famous Chinese blind date TV shows, based on the hit movie by the same name.
The show's title is a translation of the Chinese idiom, 非诚勿扰 (fēichéngwùrǎo), which literally means serious enquiries only. However, in China the idiom is most commonly used in the context of dating and matchmaking.
If you want to take your Mandarin practice to the next level, then you can apply to take part in the show as one of the on-stage female guests, 女嘉宾 (nǚ jiābīn）or male guests 男嘉宾 (nán jiābīn）. Many non-native Chinese speaking candidates appear on the show and if you are not afraid of the limelight and your love life getting a grilling, then it's an ideal opportunity to force yourself to speak Mandarin in front of a crowd.
Make sure you watch the show before you apply though, so that you can practice your Chinese listening skills and you know what you are letting yourself in for!
Apart from having a bit of dutch courage, you'll also need to know some Chinese blind date TV show vocab before you hit the stage. Knowing some essential vocab can be useful if you plan on just watching the show too.
Essential Dating Show Vocabulary
主持人 (Zhǔchí rén)
The show's presenter is the very witty and balding, 孟非 (Mèng Fēi).
Video clips of contestants are shown to see if their interests match those of their prospective partners on stage.
The measure word for 片子 is 条 （tiáo）, so if you want to say one video, say 一条片子 （Yītiáo piànzi）, rather than 一个片子（Yīgè piànzi）.
You can also listen out for the TV presenter saying first video, 第一条片子 (Dì yī tiáo piànzi) and second video, 第二条片子 (Dì èr tiáo piànzi), when watching the show online.
颜值 (Yán zhí)
One's looks/'the value of one's face'
The term is part of Chinese Internet slang, 网络词 （Wǎngluò cí），that is often used by young people in China today.
You can describe somebody as good-looking， 颜值很高 （Yán zhí hěn gāo）, or not good-looking （Yán zhí bù gāo）.
Financial stability is a big factor when dating in China. You might hear guests on the show describing candidates as 大方, or the opposite, 不大方 （Bù dàfāng）.
This is another bit of Chinese Internet slang to describe somebody as tight-fisted!
'You are a disgrace! You may look like a bride, but you will never bring your family honor!' - Matchmaker, Disney's Mulan
‘Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match!’
So goes the famous song from Fiddler on the Roof as a Jewish father tries to use traditional methods to find a match for his five daughters. The tradition of using a matchmaker is not confined to Jewish culture however, matchmakers have a long history in China too where they were also traditionally used by families to find suitable matches for their offspring.
According to Chinese tradition, finding a match was not so much about finding two people well-suited to each other as much as it was about finding two families that were well- matched. The Chinese idiom 门当户对 (Méndānghùduì) means families of prospective partners must be of equal social status and perhaps best describes this phenomenon.
Matchmakers – or so-termed ‘red women’, known as 红娘 (Hóng niáng)– would match suitable partners by factoring elements such as the auspiciousness of the prospective couple's dates of birth.
Matchmakers are still fairly common in China today, however, in most places they offer much more modern services and have changed with the times. You can usually find their details on physical posters or online websites.
Grab the chance to learn Mandarin from a Chinese modern matchmaker!
Romance is not dead! Or is it?
5. Blind Dating
相亲 (Xiāngqīn）is a kind of blind dating. More specifically, it is the Chinese custom of being set-up by friends and family.
For the many pressured young people who partake in the activity, there is not always a lot of romance involved. Many single people in China are forced to attend dates arranged by their parents who are fretting that their offspring will remain single forever more!
Due in part to the one child policy and the resulting gender imbalance among China's millennials, many young single Chinese people sadly fined themselves being pressured into marriage by family members in what is known as 逼婚.
Forced to marry
The phrase can also be used jokingly, for example, people commenting in jest that their partner forced them to get married.
If you have been set-up for a blind date (be it willingly or not!) whilst in a Mandarin speaking country then you can describe your upcoming date as follows.
今天我要去相亲 （Jīntiān wǒ yào qù xiāngqīn）
I am going on a blind date today.
这是我第一次相亲 （Zhè shì wǒ dì yī cì xiāngqīn）
This is my first time on a blind date.
Who knew you could find love at the market!
"Weighs only 15 pounds! Plump and promising!"
The above cry could well come from an impassioned Sunday morning vendor brandishing the last of their fruit and veg at the town market. However, on this occasion, we're actually not talking about Harold or Bertie from your local farmer's market trying to flog half a sack of aubergine or watermelon.
It is actually the desperate cry of one of the elderly parents at Beijing's infamous matchmaking market. Chinese parents flock to the city's matchmaking markets clutching flyers and posters on which their children's credentials are written as they try to find a marital partner for their sons and daughters.
You don't have to be a parent to join in the matchmaking market fun though. Just be prepared to answer a lot of questions! Your height, weight, job title, property ownership and marital status and even whether or not you have national insurance could all be areas of interest at the market, so be sure to swot up on how to describe your attributes in Chinese.
Chinese online dating sites bring you romance and help you learn Mandarin along the way!
7. Online Dating Sites
Tired of Tinder? Try TanTan! TanTan is China's answer to Tinder and a modern method of doing some totally free dating.
What better way to perfect your Chinese language skills than with a bit of romance! You can try going on a TanTan date if you want to branch out a bit from Tinder and learn Mandarin at the same time.
If you have not yet got a WeChat account, then it's high time! WeChat is the ultimate way to communicate with the Mandarin speaking world.
If you are a Chinese language learner looking for love then it can be a perfect tool for meeting new people. If you do not feel very confident with your Chinese writing, you can always record your message using the instant voice message recording facility. It is also quite interesting to play your own voice back, so that you can identify if there are any particular mistakes with your Chinese tones and that you wouldn't otherwise notice.
Free Dating Sites
There are also a whole host of Chinese online dating sites out there. You can have fun using your Chinese skills to create a profile on a free dating site and see where Chinese dating life takes you!