Learn Chinese in a Maid Cafe – a little secret hack of language acquisition and practice
Kungfucius shares a secret with you: a great place to learn Chinese are maid cafes! At least potentially great place as it really depends on the interaction you will have with the maid…
Dealing with Women and Servants is really difficult
So how about dealing with women that are there to serve you? At least in maths, two negatives become a positive. So let’s take it on the positive side of things.
What are maid cafes?
Maid cafes, the quirky and kawaii coffee shops that originated in Japan, have spread across Asia, with Taipei and Shanghai being hotspots for these unique establishments. At maid cafes, customers are greeted by servers dressed in maid costumes who serve them food and drinks while providing a cutesy and interactive experience.
Who are the maids?
Most maids working in maid cafes are young girls between the ages of 18 and 26, and many of them are students. While many maids speak mostly Chinese, there are also a lot of language students who work part-time in maid cafes to finance their studies. Contrary to what some might think, many maids love to have longer, normal conversations with customers that are not creepy or inappropriate. So, if you’re looking for a fun and lighthearted conversation over coffee, a maid cafe might just be the perfect place to visit.
Maid Cafes in Taipei
If you’re looking for a maid cafe experience in Taipei, you’ll want to head to the Ximen area, located south/west of the main train station. This neighborhood is home to several of Taipei’s popular maid cafes, including Moe Hime Maid Cafe, Lilith in Wonderland, and Kokorolia. Most of these cafes open around midday and start to get busy in the late afternoon and early evening, so plan your visit accordingly. With their quirky ambiance and interactive experience, these maid cafes are definitely worth checking out for a unique and fun coffee shop experience in Taipei. Many cafes boast a colorful and playful interior, and the maids offer a range of activities, from singing and dancing to playing board games with customers.
Maid Cafes in Shanghai
Despite the size of Shanghai, there are not as many maid cafes there compared to Taipei. Still, you might find some maid cafes there. Preferably not in the touristy areas, but in malls where you have better chances of talking with cosplay maids and enjoying quality coffees.
Learning Mandarin at maid cafes
The best way to learn a language is to alternate methods and situations. Overall, there is a clear argument in favor of immersive language learning and a maid cafe is often a great environment for full immersion Mandarin learning.
Many maids are students themselves, so they know a thing or two about language learning. And since their job is all about creating a friendly atmosphere and having good conversations, they’re the perfect language partners. Just bring your apps and prepare to jot down any new words or phrases that come up. One more thing: If you want, maids will only speak Chinese with you and they usually can adjust their level so that it is challenging for you but not overwhelming.
Another good activity is role plays and maids are masters in role plays and many are interested in cosplay culture and at maid cafes you can also play board games that also help you advance your language acquisition.
What if the cafe is too busy?
Sometimes the cafe can be quite busy. Use that time to review the vocabulary in your apps and also now that there is comfort in silence. As the old saying goes:
Silence is a true friend who never betrays.
“寂靜是永遠不會背叛你的朋友” (Jìjìng shì yǒngyuǎn bù huì bèipàn nǐ de péngyǒu)
But while maid cafes are certainly fun and entertaining, they also carry a hint of Confucian philosophy. The great philosopher once said, “女子與小人，難以養也,” which translates to “Women and servants are difficult to deal with.” Perhaps this is why the servers at maid cafes put in so much effort to make customers happy and comfortable.
Some maid cafes have time limits. For example, you order a dish and then you can stay for an hour at the maid cafe. Just make sure you understand this beforehand.
Of course, the allure of maid cafes can also be a bit dangerous. As the saying goes, “Man who takes a girl fishing sometimes gets hooked.” So if you want to improve Mandarin while having your dentist’s favorite cake and sugary beverage: Check out a maid cafe! But be careful. You might get hooked!
But apart from that. Maid cafes are just one additional way of language learning and certainly not for every day. Maybe once a week you spend an hour or two at a maid cafe and once a week an hour or two talking to a bartender, going on a hike, dancing, have a meeting with entrepreneurs, listen to the radio for hours, talk with a taxi driver and many other ways to improve and hone your language skills.