(Original post by Isambard Kingdom Brunel)
What you need to understand is that only educated people in China receive the ability to learn a language. Outside of hotels and airports, you won't see many people being able to talk English.
In McDonald's, they give you a product list to point at so they know what you want. In taxis, you MUST have your destination written down in Chinese otherwise they won't understand what you mean. If Chinese people knew a second language, then they wouldn't be driving taxis.
Even names of famous shopping malls and Metro stations are completely different. You cannot say 'Lujiazui station', even though that is what it says on the Metro maps. Everything has a different meaning in Chinese.
In contrast, my experiences in Tokyo were less difficult. More people there are confident enough to engage in a little conversation, even if it is just a few words.