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I live in an area where there are many Chinese so I get plenty of opportunity to use my language skills including shopping, eating at restaurants and meeting new people.

The Chinese people I meet are always complimentary about my language skill although I think it is quite average.

What are some different ways I can express to people that I feel my skill level is not very good?

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Can you clarify the purpose of expressing that? –  NS.X. Oct 4 '12 at 1:54
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@NS.X. Self-deprecating when someone compliments you on something is a proper Chinese way to show politeness. –  Nihil Oct 4 '12 at 2:30
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5 Answers

You could try as a response: 谢谢可是我仅知道很少汉语 Xièxiè kěshì wǒ jǐn zhīdào hěn shǎo hànyǔ

I always forget which to put at the end but it is something I have use well still learning

But if you answer James question he will probably give you something much better :P

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It's ok, but sounds very awkward to my ears. –  deutschZuid Oct 4 '12 at 21:05
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You can try the following sentences which demonstrate humility:

  • 不好意思,我的中文水平尚浅,有待跟您多多学习。
    Sorry, my Chinese language skill is still shallow, there is still a lot to learn from you.

  • 我的中文只不过马马虎虎而已,请您多多包涵。
    My Chinese is just so-so only, please bear with me.

  • 我的中文说得不好,请别见怪。
    I am not good at speaking Mandarin, hope you don't mind.

If someone is praising your language ability, you can express in the following manners immediately after the compliments:

  • 哪里,哪里... (Nah, you think too highly of me...)
  • 您过奖了。 (You flatter me.)
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I noticed a small error, 包含 should be 包涵. 包含 is actually "include, contain". –  Mike Manilone Oct 4 '12 at 4:26
    
These seem rather formal to me. –  Stumpy Joe Pete Oct 4 '12 at 4:40
    
@MikeManilone, I have made the change. Thanks for pointing it out :) –  Question Overflow Oct 4 '12 at 4:53
    
+1 for the last ones. –  Stumpy Joe Pete Oct 4 '12 at 7:48
    
What does 'where got' mean? Never heard of it. Edit: Upon further research, looks like it is Singaporean slang. I'd avoid using it here as it's not understood by anyone outside that area. (I assume you live in Singapore). –  deutschZuid Oct 4 '12 at 21:03
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Short and sweet:

  • 没有,没有。 No, no, [it's not so good].

江南 style:

  • 我[中文]还讲得一般般。 I still don't speak that great.
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I suggest you say

其实还好啦 (qi shi hai hao la) - It's actually just ok!

It's very casual and easy going. I don't suggest you say something too formal, too humble or too complicated :)

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I had an early-intermediate textbook where the character who was learning responded, "还差得远呢".

Be careful that you don't make your self-deprecation too impressive or advanced (at least relative to your actual level), that could send a mixed signal!

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