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How do you feel when you hear strictly proper English by a non-native speaker

A friend of mine asked me to teach him English, but I don’t know where to start. He is a partying guy and wants to use English to communicate with English speakers in a nightclub, which means his English style has to be very friendly. In fact, I have an experience that one of my American friends asked me to speak frankly using lots of slang, because she found my English somewhat aloof. Also I feel the same when I hear strictly correct Japanese by a non-native Japanese.


My question here is how you feel when you hear strictly proper English spoken by a non-native in a pretty casual situation like a binge. Thanks for reading.

4 de Mar de 2015 às 01:43
Comments · 11

As others have said, I think it's to be expected. If I can tell they are a non-native speaker, and they begin speaking formerly, I'm usually more impressed than anything, and while it might feel aloof, I would no it's not their intention. A good example would be I work with a lot of Dutch people, who have great but very formal english skills, and I am more likely to just respect them for knowing English and trying to speak my language than to judge their speaking style.

Also as another said, it's better to learn English in a formal manner, then learn some slang and idioms, then to do it the opposite way around.

The most important thing to remember here for your friend, is that most communication is non-verbal. As long as he can communicate clearly in English it doesn't matter how he does. However he should take some time to study the body language of his target culture (most english speaking cultures are very similar). Pay attention to how far we stand from each other when speaking, how loud we are, what we do with our hands, etc. Generally speaking if a person in a social situation doesn't invade my personal space, and smiles a lot, everything will be alright.

4 de Março de 2015

I agree with Dan Smith. It sounds fine to to hear a non-native use correct 'proper' English. There is nothing wrong with that at all - this is how we would expect a non-native to speak. What does sound odd to the native ear, however, is when a non-natives use slang and/or very idiomatic language. This is especially the case when that person's command of the language is less than perfect.

There are two reasons for this:

- It is very very easy to misjudge a situation, and 'get it wrong' with informal language. The result could be strange, offensive, unintentionally comical, or - as is the case most of the time - simply inappropriate.

- Slang and other 'restricted' language features such as swearing/obscenities show that you are part of a group and a shared culture. For example, teenagers swear among themselves, but not in front of their parents. Sometimes informal language is very localised. For example, it would be a very strange thing for an American or British person to go to Australia and suddenly start using Australian slang.


If I were you, I would be very careful indeed about teaching your friend anything other than normal English. Correct, neutral language is never wrong. Non-standard language can be very wrong indeed.


4 de Março de 2015

My personal opinion is that when I hear speech in a foreign accent, I do not expect to hear any colloquialisms. 

If I speak colloquially to a native speaker and they answer formally, it feels as if they are criticising me and hinting that I am talking too casually. I do not feel this way when I am talking to a foreign speaker. In fact I appreciate the clarity and directness.

If I am listening to a foreign accent, the accent makes the speech harder to understand. The speaker can counteract that by using the plainest and most predictable choices of words and phrases. 


4 de Março de 2015

Hi, I'm a Vietnamese. When I speak to a non-native Vietnamese, I feel so lovely. I think that everyone will be confused when they aren't using their mother-langeuge. So, if they wana any help to express what they wana say, I'll ready to help them.

4 de Março de 2015

It shouldn't matter with drunk people. Let the slang fly!

9 de Março de 2015
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Language Skills
English, Japanese
Learning Language