Shawn
A Second Successful Chat on Skype with My Russiand Friend / American English Tips

Earlier today, I spoke to my friend from Russia via voice on Skype for the second time. He wants to learn American English and to practice hearing and speaking it so I told him that I would help him out. At first, he didn't understand what I said when he asked me how I was. I had said, "I'm doing alright." So I rephrased it as "I'm fine." and he asked if "I'm doing alright." means "I'm fine." and I said yes. I am sure that grammar books probably don't teach my response. He said that I speak fast and that I use big vocabulary and phrases that he has never heard before. I will keep the in mind for our next chat. 

 

I am really impressed by his level of English though. He started learning English on his own from a friend who wasn't a native speaker of the language. I really give him a lot of credit for his pronunciation of English too. For instance, to test his pronunciation, I gave him a number of words with w's in them to say. Most Russians make a V sound instead of a W sound when they say words like widget, window, want, etc. In fact, my Russian co-worker says Vidget instead of Widget all the time and this is also the reason why American comedians imitate Russians by using a V sound instead. I remember when my Russian co-worker first started working for our company. He kept making the mistake and one day my boss totally could not understand him. I added into their conversation, using the word widget so my boss would finally understand and so I wouldn't be rude by saying "He is saying 'widget'." My boss then understood and said "Oooooh 'widget'." Hahaha Anyhow, my friend from Russia could pronounce all the words correctly. He really did a great job and I think this is one of the things that will make his English skills stand out from others. So if you are Russian, I strongly recommend learning how to say W correctly. You don't want people mocking or teasing you by saying "I VANT to VATCH the game tonight." instead of "I wamt to watch the game tonight." Seriously, that is how native English speakers perceive Russian speech so beat them at the game by concentrating on that sound.

 

After my pronunciation test, he wanted to practice saying some of his own sentences and wanted me to correct his pronunciation if it was wrong. He surprised me again. In fact, a few of his sentences I would consider more complex, such as "You can call me in 30 minutes and maybe the connection will be better then." He did an amazing job and nailed the pronunciation 100% correct. One word I did have to correct his pronunciation of though was "through" because he was pronouncing the ending the same as "thorough"'s. The -rough endings in both of these words are pronounced differently in American English. 

 

Anyhow, he taught me some basic Russian phrases today. I hope to practice them with him every time we speak on Skype. At first, I didn't know privet had a rolled R but it was pretty easy to do after he told me since we learn how to roll an R for Spanish in high school in the States. :)

May 10, 2014 3:11 AM
Comments · 11

Sudeep, I have tons of experience speaking with Indian people. So many Indians from overseas come here to study or to live. Plus there are a lot of American-Indians who were born here. A lot of Indian people also work for American co,panies' call centers too so whenever you have to call in for support, often times you speak with someone who is Indian. I am trying to think how to describe what an Indian accent sounds like to Americans. The sound is very distinct. It may be harder for someone who is Indian to sound more American. Hmmm. Let me think about this some and then I will send you some suggestions on sounds to concentrate on. :)

May 10, 2014

Dear Shawn, Thank you very much.

May 10, 2014

That's interesting, Irene. I didn't even think to consider that component of it, although, honestly, I didn't know that until just now. Russian has a z sound in it though, doesn't it? Like in this word 3byk. Sorry, I don't know if it is a dirty word but it is listed in this pronunciation guide. c has so many pronunciations: circle has two different c's in it. corner has a c sound different from the first c in circle. :) I think th is hard for a lot of people learning English. S has a lot of sounds tool The word houses has two different s sounds in it. The es is pronounced like iz in American English. So much for English learners to perfect. hahaha

May 10, 2014

Hi Shavan, if you have any speaking experience with Indian or Nepalese people, please share that here.

May 10, 2014

Shawn , the problem is that a lot of us are taught by teachers , who was learning English during Iron Curtain (certainly ,they couldn't practise it with native-speakers then) , at schools. And most of teachers studied in Pedagogical Institutes (lower level of education) instead of University of Foreighn languages. Russian phonetics differs from English one very much ,too. 

However ,as Russia is a public country now , I think Russians' speaking skills are becoming better with every generation. 

P.S. I have never had a problem with "v" and "w" ,but ,alas , with "th"-"z" and "th"-"c"-"s" T.T 

May 10, 2014
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Shawn
Language Skills
Danish, English, French, Gaelic (Irish), German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Russian
Learning Language
Danish, Gaelic (Irish), German, Italian, Japanese, Russian