The first batch of “bilingual taxis” was recently launched in Hangzhou, eastern China’s Zhejiang province, the local road transport management bureau announced on Monday. Thirty-five cab drivers are expected to offer bilingual services in their taxis for the convenience of foreign visitors.
An Australian volunteer in Hangzhou named Tim, who is now teaching English to the taxi drivers, said that Hangzhou is a beautiful and internationally renowned tourist city, and has hosted plenty of world-class conferences and sporting events. The city also attracts many foreign visitors, he added, saying that taxis are the first opportunity for foreigners to learn about the city.
He told China News Service that it’s an honor for him to help local taxi drivers learn English and build a better image of the city.
Huang Feihua, a Chinese man who is also teaching English to the taxi drivers, said that he has compiled a handbook that helps learners memorize English vocabulary based on homophone translation. This book will help the drivers learn English quickly, he added.
Foreign volunteers give an English class to taxi drivers. (Photo/Chinanew.cn)
“As we are not highly educated, it would be too much for us to start learning from English letters. We usually learn English while waiting for passengers. The homophone method works well for us,” said Ye Hongfeng, a taxi driver with 20 years of experience.
Drew, a Canadian who has been working for a year and a half in Hangzhou noted that there weren’t many taxi drivers in Hangzhou that could speak English, and he heavily relied on translation software. However, now they can speak simple English, and understand English terms such as “West Lake” and “train station”, he added.
“Hangzhou encourages taxi drivers to learn English, as it reflects the quality of the city’s services and the level of its internationalization,” said Gu Jianfeng, head of the taxi management administration of Hangzhou Road Transport Management Bureau.
“More drivers will join the bilingual service as the English learning campaign gradually expands its influence,” he disclosed.