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My research

 

Hello everyone! Do you have an experience in participating in some big project, being a part of something really great and meaningful? I've started one (it's not that big yet, but it's growing)and now I invite you to join it!

 

A month ago I started my blog for English learners. But the truth is I'm not the best teacher as English is not my native language. It's far from being perfect. I don't think in English, that's why my phrasing is often incorrect. I used to learn from textbooks, not anymore, but many-many-many people around the world still do. And it means that their English will never sound natural. Unless they get some help.

I believe that together we can help millions of people out there with their English. If we share our experience and everybody make a small but priceless contribution, it will all make a difference.

All I ask you is to share a particular story or an example from your own experience of interacting with non-native English speakers that made you think "What? We would never say it this way". Maybe just a phrase, an expression used incorrectly or in wrong situation and your suggestion what should have been used instead.

I'll give you a small example.
All our text books teach that you should say "how do you do?", which is in fact less common than "how are you doing?", "how are you?" or "how's life?" (fell free to correct me if I'm wrong)))
Or as my friend from Canada told me: if you are at the kitchen table with your friend and you ask him to pass a spoon, you wouldn't say "Give me a spoon, please", you'd rather say "Have you got a spoon" (which surprised me very much).

All these little things are very important. And since nobody has done something similar before I dicided to make a research, collect these things and share with people.

So now I ask you for a bit of help. I've already sent hundreds of requests and got many answers. Some cases are unique, some repeat over and over again proving that this work is really gonna be something of value, and it will help many people.

I truly believe that natives are best teachers of a language, so I'll appreciate your contribution very much. And I'm gonna thank you not just personally but make a list of those who contributed most of all and make it inseparable part of my research. I'm sure you are gonna be on that list.

So please use this template, spend several minutes and help millions of people improve their English!

Name, age,
occupation,
city, country

Your example (a little story, an expression etc.)

Thank you very much and see you soon!

Best regards
Vika

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Comments

Great Idea and hope you bests.

But how your blog improve English learners?

(As I understand from your note you only focusing on English then only native speakers are good choices for helping in this particular case.)

But I would like to check your blog and see how the process really going on.

How you say those expressions depends on the context, the degree of formality and the environment you are in. Taking your example,

 

"How do you do?"  This is used by the educated and in formal occassions such as meeting a person for the first time in a formal setting such as in a conference, a social party, etc.  Using the more common and information expression, "What's up?" is considered rude and you won't be thought of highly at all!  This is used by intimate friends or by the uneducated on the street.  "How's life" is informal and used only in informal settings by friends.

 

As for your spoon example, you should say, "[ Please, ]May I have the spoon?" and "Can you pass me the spoon" are more formal and should be used at dinner parties etc.  Your Canadian friend is giving you half the answer correctly.  "Have you got a spoon?" is too informal and in poor English.  It should be "Do you have a spoon?" would be of more proper English.

 

This shows you that you cannot fully trust even a native speaker of the language.  You have to consider their background education as well.  I am sure that even in Russian, one can speak like a queen or a whore.  In another words, there are more unrefined people around.  How you want to speak is up to you.  My favourite movie on the English language, "My Fair Lady" is a must watch if you haven't seen it yet already.  It is all about what I am talking about.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypHNkKoJpk4

 

Shanin, thank you for the answer. Yes, I believe that only native speakers can help you learn how to communicate ideas in English, not just do a word for word translation. Thant's why I ask people on Italki to help. I believe that together we can make something really worthwhile. 

 

So, keep track on my activity! I'd be glad to share any useful information I will receive!

Sure , Keep on

Hope you bests

 

Thank you, Jeff! Your answer is very useful! And I will definitely watch "My Fair Lady"! 

 

You see, that's why I'm asking you guys - many a little makes a mickle!

 

 

 

Hi Viktoriia, you might find this useful. Some people (including myself) have listed a few common mistakes people have in English: http://www.italki.com/discussion/58880

Good luck!

 

Thank you very much! I found it really useful!!! But what about the whole expressions? Do you happen to have any experience with them?

It's more about liteal translation. When people don't communicate ideas but just try to do word for word translation. And of course, it depends on which language is their native.

 

For example: this expression - do you happen to know. If we translate it word for word from Russian we will get DO YOU ACCIDENTALLY KNOW - which makes no sense in English, right? 

 

So, my goal is to find as many examples like that as possible.

 

 

'many a little makes a mickle'?  hahaha where'd you dig that up?  Another issue is that idiom dredged up from textbooks is quite likely to ignore 'currency' and what was appropriate 150 years ago is quite likely to have a 'native speaker' scratching their head. I am guessing the particular expression has long ago fallen out of usage (but I could be wrong...).  As an example of misuse, let me mention one that causes amusement amongst Australian/NZ/British speakers - I note it most amongst Chinese students of English.  The phrase 'pulling my (any poss.pronoun) leg' almost always comes back in the plural - it just doesn't work in the plural.  I mean, I hear 'are you pulling my legs?'.  Off topic, I see also in internet articles, writers use the plural when the pronoun is plural 'he was pulling your/their legs' which is debatable - I wonder would the writer also suggest 'they were taking the Mickeys'?

On Australian idiom in this context there are three phrases (with similar meaning) open to misuse:

1. to pull someone's leg

2. to take the Mickey (American slang I presume)

3. to have a lend of someone (Australian slang, and yes it is 'lend' not 'loan')

 

 

Wow, I could come up with examples probably every day.  From getting drilled in advanced English courses I tend to catch every little mistake that anybody makes.  But i also work with people from all over the world.

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