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There is a Chinese supermarket in the US I often shop at. I often hear the staff speaking Mandarin or Cantonese, and occasionally Hakka or Fujianese, amongst themselves and to Chinese customers. I can also tell that they speak English to non-Asian customers. As a non-Asian, what is the best approach to take if I want to practice my Mandarin there? I know a little Cantonese, but my Mandarin is a lot better. Even if the cashier does know Mandarin, I am worried about offending them if I don't validate their proficiency in English by talking to them in English.

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    In general, it is very rude to use a stranger for your free language practice. Many people in many countries don't like it, even though at first they seem to be amazed at your proficiency. Still, good question and as a language learner I also want to know a better way. You might also get answers on Interpersonal Stack Exchange. – Blaszard May 5 at 11:43
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    Good point, but I wouldn't call it "free" language practice. I spend a lot of money there, after all. – K Man May 5 at 11:46
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    I mean free for a language practice purpose. The amount of money you spend is only relevant to what you get as a normal customer, which in this case speaks English just as others. I know you don't just go to the store, ask something in Chinese and then go out without buying anything. There may be a better word but free (maybe unnecessary?), so sorry if it offended you. – Blaszard May 5 at 11:55
  • Not at all. I admit that saying much more than "hello," "how much?" "thank you" and "goodbye" in the target language to the cashier runs the risk of going overboard. – K Man May 5 at 13:06
  • Do you merely mean using Chinese instead of English, or rather talking more than you normally would? Does your level allow you to actually do this rather fluently, or would speaking Chinese take for ever (risking wasting their time)? – Mathieu Bouville May 5 at 15:41

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