Native and non-native speakers often worry about the use of correct grammar. This video explains how to shift the focus to the content of the message.
- Non-native English speakers are often afraid of speaking English because they don't want to make mistakes. Some native English speakers make the situation worse by correcting every mistake. But what if we focused on the message instead? It's hard to admit, but as a non-native English speaker, you may be judged based on your level of English. This doesn't mean that you should only speak if you use perfect grammar and have a perfect accent. I would recommend apologizing immediately, saying I'm sorry for my English, it's not very good, so that expectations are lower. And then do your best to speak with correct grammar and a good accent. But focus on the message you want to communicate, and don't be afraid of speaking. Now tips for native English speakers: one, as best as you can, try to focus on the message and set judgments aside when talking to a non-native English speaker. It's natural to make assumptions when talking to someone about their culture, their character, their qualifications for a job and so on. But practice suspending the judgment for a minute and focus on what the person is saying, and not on the grammar they are using. Two, don't correct every mistake if it doesn't affect the comprehension of the message. A good idea is rather to repeat the sentence using correct grammar to model it for the other person. So someone says I not know the manager, you could say oh, you don't know the manager? Three, you can use intonation to indicate the mood and purpose of the sentence you're about to say. If we're scheduling our next meeting and you suggest we meet on Friday, I could say Friday or mm, Friday? That different intonation alone could communicate very different meanings. Also be as specific as you can when asking questions. Don't take anything for granted. I was a park in San Francisco with my American boyfriend and some friends of his. When someone asked me so you're here for, my answer was him. I only then realized, since everybody was laughing, that they were asking how long I was there for. How embarrassing. But even a full question such as how long have you been here for asked at the corporate event isn't clear. What's here? In the U.S., in this town, in this company, in this branch or office? Whenever you ask a question, be very obvious and specific. Similarly, the last time I arrived at the airport in the U.S. and I was going through Customs, the agent asked me how my flight was. And I said quite good but tiring, you know. And he added food? To which I replied oh yes, I had two meals on the flight. But he was asking whether I had food in my suitcase. Again, always ask full, very obvious questions. The purpose of communication is to send and receive messages, and we should make every effort in that direction. By focusing on sending clear messages and what the other person is trying to say, we're helping each other in the process.
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