Do you notice foreigner's language errors?
September 10, 2008 3:07pm CST
Question arises from my recent conversation with a friend from the UK. What he believes is that Brits do not actually pay much attention to language errors of foreigners. Of course, not at all times. When an error distorts message in a way it cannot be understood, they stop and ask for clarification, but do not grow tired of conversation. The reason I am asking is that some time ago this time my German friend told me he cannot stand foreigner's not speaking perfect (cohesive, coherent, gramatically correct) German. Which do you think is more true for you? Do you notice errors? Do they make you nervous? btw - don't mind mistakes I made ;)
16 Sep 08
An interesting question. Think what you say in your opening statement, is how I generally see things too. Not sure how long it took you to compose your discussion, but it is certainly very clear and understandable. An interesting point I heard, some time ago now, was when a traveller told me, when I was in Argentina, that he found it easier to speak to other people who used English as a second language, than to people who were native English speakers. This was because, he said, that native speakers, don't necessarily learn all the grammatical structures of their own languages and so use various short cuts, which can make their words less understandable to foreigners. BTW, when I was at school, teaching methods then believed more in free expression, then getting the grammar correct. In fact, I didn't learn so much about past tense, present tense, future tense etc, until I came to learn Spanish. So learning some Spanish, help me improve my grammar as well! Lastly, of course I would notice errors in the way foreigners speak English, but if I understand the gist of what they are saying, then I'm not going to bother too much in correcting them. If there was time, or of course I couldn't understand them, then of course, I would try and get them to be more precise in their English.
18 Sep 08
Thank you very much for your response. I don't know whether you are familiar with English teaching methods, but now it is more directed towards what you described (at least in Poland). That is less focus on form, more on content. This means that even though students make grammatical errors, if they're not global (distorting message) they are not being corrected (or corrected in a limited way). Of course, it's an overgeneralization, but that's more or less what happens on English classes - contrary to i.e. French which is still based on relatively old methodology. Concerning your Spanish friend, view that conversing with 2nd language speaking people is easier from that of conversing with natives, is shared by many of my friends. Reasons your friend presented on one hand, on the other rather low anxiety level. They're less afraid of mistakes they make will be noticed. That makes them more comfortable. Once I was talking to my Scottish friend. Easy conversation turned difficult when I asked him to start using his natural way of speaking (he was using RP pronunciation to make it easier for me). I must admit I understood 1/5 of the next few sentences he spoke at most, which was very interesting for me - what I found out then, is that I might find it harder than I thought to converse with native language speakers using their original pronunciation. It's like learning whole new language! So thank God for your (natives) understanding! :] Thank you once again for your comments!