Do You Adopt A Result-Driven Attitude to Speak A Language Effectively or Do You Master A Language Like An Art?
Marianna, an English trainer shares her own experiences (as situation 1 & 2 below) on how non-native English speakers speak English with different attitudes.
Marianna is looking to buy Omega supplements at a pharmacy in Malaysia.
A professional-looking lady explains to her about the difference of EPA & DHA in a very detailed way with technical English words. Marianna ends up not knowing what to buy.
She then turns to the girl behind the counter and asked her for advice.
The girl says: “Okay. EPA for heart. DHA for brain. Your heart okay or not?”
Marianna says: “Yeah my heart is pretty good.”
The girl says: “Your brain okay or not?”
Marianna says: “No, my brain is not as good as it used to be.”
The girl says: “Okay lah, you take Omega DHA.”
Marianna is at a BBQ organised for engineers from all over the world.
French engineer is cooking the hot dog.
French engineer : “Would you like a hot dog?”
Korean engineer : “Yes, please!”
French engineer : “Do you want the cheese?”
Korean engineer : ”I no see cheese.”
French engineer : ”The hot dog is contains the cheese.”
Korean engineer : (he doesn’t understand)
French engineer : ”The hot dog is…making from… with the cheese.”
Korean engineer : (he still cannot understand)
French engineer : ”The hot dog is coming from.. no the cheese is coming from the hot dog.”
Korean engineer : (he still cannot understand)
Japanese engineer who has been listening the conversation turns to the Korean engineer and says : ”Ah! Cheese… integrator!”
Finally the Korean engineer understands..
Marianna says that with one native English speaker on the planet, there are five non-native English speakers. 96% of all conversations involves non-native English speakers, only 4% conversation involves native English speakers to native English speakers.
And that is probably what makes her opine that English is not an art to be mastered anymore, instead it is a tool to use to get the result. And the tool belongs to you.
I started learning English (as well as Mandarin and Bahasa) at the age of four when I started going to kindergarten just like most Malaysians. As someone who had to learn a few languages since a very young age, I’ve always believed that languages are like wonderful pieces of arts, each of them is so distinctive in its own way. Like music, languages can unite people and build bridges between human beings. I always find that arts are fascinating and beautiful, in many ways, arts are subjective because they are the creation and expression of one’s ideas, interest and creativity. So I used to enjoy writing poems and lyrics to my pleasure.
As I grew older and started my career in the corporate sector, languages became a communication tool used to manage and conclude business transactions. So I do agree with Marianna in a way that English, or any language at all, is a tool to use to get the result you want, for example, to order food at a restaurant, to write an email, to ask for a pay raise, to draft a legal agreement and etc. She suggests that when you speak, don’t focus on yourself, focus on the result that you want to achieve, this is how you could communicate effectively. This is true, because this is when you turn the subjective (your personal interest or desire) into the objective (the goal or result you want to achieve), and this is how a language becomes a tool.
Nevertheless, based on my experiences, under many circumstances, languages (with your attitudes) are used as an art to build and maintain robust relationships with people on a long-term basis. Using the appropriate adjectives, intonations, idioms, or even sense of humour could increase your chances of getting what you want (or increase your likeability). For example, asking for a pay raise or promotion without using the appropriate words or technique to describe specific skill sets and qualities you possess may decrease your chances of getting that pay raise or promotion (Ha, now could you imagine how "sweet talkers" could normally get what they want?). Another example is telling a girl with just the words “I love you”, as compared to telling her that “I miss you, I want to see you, and I want to make you feel happy everyday because it makes me happy when I see you happy”. Which one do you think would make the girl feel the love you have for you?
Like Marianna says, the tool belongs to you. So I think after all it is up to you how you want to use it to get what you want, and of course, it is always important to know your goals (the purpose and results you want to achieve), otherwise, you could use a lot of beautiful words and jargons, but they don’t take you to the place you want to be eventually.