Please Get Ready For Your Arrival! Teaching the Beijing Subway Proper English

21:59 (UTC+08:00), 23 MAY 2018 | CHN CHAOYANGMEN, BEIJING

The Beijing Subway is an epic element of “daily life” (as they say here in Beijing) my end. Whilst I don’t ride it day in day out, I do ride on it religiously enough that I’ve been to most stations (though not all, unlike London at the moment), and I’ve seen a few Chinglish fails.

So City Hall got me the chance to speak to 90 of the Beijing Subway’s “Ops-3” (Third Operations) company. These guys manage Lines 2, 8, 10, and 13, which included the city’s two loop lines, and the arc line as well. We also went over the basic, included ten phrases used in ten situations — gateline English, at the platforms, to deal with interchange routes, and many others. Each phrase had no more than ten words in English, thus aptly being named 10•10•10.

But we saved the best for last. I treated Subway crew to nearly a hundred phrases or so used at major interchanges and stations across town, in mock situations, and to deal with horrendously complex transfer situations. Drunk commuters in Wudaokou (after a hard night out), passengers lost in the horrific Xizhimen maze, travellers trying to flee the Jing at the huge Dongzhimen interchange, or those trying to chill out on Nanluoguxiang, were all part of what was taught.

Having been on 40 metro systems across 14 countries and territories (including musical Lisbon, trilingual Barcelona, antiquated Milan, and the still-very-familiar systems in London and Hong Kong), it felt like I was as familiar with the tube as I was on the national rails. And it sure felt worth it: five years after I started out improving English on China Railways, I’m now making this local to city metros, too. Hopefully many more tube involvements will be down the passageway. Please get ready for your arrival!