Yesterday evening, I read a post on a forum on the website of the Chinese university where I am pursuing my doctoral studies, a job ad seeking a private English tutor, which goes as follows:
A girl who is at her second year of middle school wants find a English tutor.You'd better be a native speaker. You main task is to help her practice her oral English at the weekend for one or two hours. The salary is high.Tel:15850579195
What in the above post especially caught my eye is the second sentence of "You'd better be a native speaker." BTW this post was presumably written by a Chinese (I myself am also Chinese), most probably a Chinese university student who has learned English for a long time but whose English competence is still not so satisfactory so far as can also be seen from the several other errors. At first glance there seemed to be nothing wrong with the sentence but shortly afterwards I sensed that this was a literal translation of Chinese thinking which is wrong in English. I remembered that "had better" is used to make a suggestion whose tone of voice implied sometimes sounds impolite to the listener. I just now went to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (the 1995 third edition)and it told me on p. 110 that "sb had better" is used to give advice about what someone should do or used to threaten someone. We cannot suggest that someone who is not a native speaker of English change themselves into one. Seemingly by now I can feel assured of the usage of "had better" but my experience with dictionaries tells me that they sometimes fail to tell everything. And this is why I come here for your help. My question is, can we say "You'd better be a native speaker"?
(I would understand this to be some sort of a warning.)
Besides, if I were the post writer, I would have written the job ad like this:
A girl who is in her second year of middle school(or junior high) wants to find a private English tutor.It will be better if you are a native speaker. Your main task is to help her practise her oral English on weekends. The salary offer is sure attractive and is still open to negotiation. If you are interested, pls contact me at 15850579195.
(The "sure" is rather colloquial, and the "still" is not needed as negotiations have not begun yet. Salary is (In the US) understood to mean a set amount of money, regardless of the number of hours worked. Pay, compensation, or, wages would fit better here.
Your version is a bit confusing in that you start with "a girl", go on to say, "is to help her", and then end with "please contact me". I'm unsure if the writer of the ad is hiring someone for the girl, or, if the girl is doing the hiring.
This type of writing tends to be similar to what one might read in the headlines of a newspaper. The normal rules of grammar are suspended in favor of brevity.
My version - Junior high girl seeking a private tutor for English. Native English speakers preferred. The main task will be to help me practice oral English on weekends. The pay is attractive. If interested, please contact me at xxxxxxxxx.
What do you think of my revised version above? If there is still anything which does not sound natural to your native ears, please point it out. Incidentally, I am a teacher of English at a small Chinese university and next Monday I intend to explain to my students possible Chinglish expressions(literal translating done consciously or unconsciously by Chinese learners of English) which are more difficult to recognize in writings or oral English of Chinese learners of English, learning English in a non-English environment, and thus require much more effort on our part to correct. I hope you will not consider me to be stupid in raising such a question which may be quite simple to you native speakers;I am serious in making this inquiry.
A BIG THANK-YOU in advance!
- For Teachers