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    #1

    Question How do you feel for non-nativesí terrible English?

    I want to speak English fluently and want to write English naturally as native speakers do, so I learn English every day. Regarding the writing skills, I want to know how native speakers feel for sentences that non-native speakers wrote. Here in Japan, we are often told that, as if it is a kind of a spell, English is nothing but a tool and we donít have to pay attention to grammar or structures. Due to that, it seems to me that Japanese often writes terrible English on business, even in a contract requiring more accuracy. I sometimes think that learning English hard is in vain, because terrible English can make one understood. My question is how you feel for non-nativesí terrible English on business. I want to know native-speakers' real intention.Thank you.

  1. blouen's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: How do you feel for non-nativesí terrible English?

    So aren't we, your fellow non-natives, invited in this thread?

    * May I suggest another question for the non-natives.

    *** How do we, non-natives, feel when our English skills were compared to that of the natives'?


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    #3

    Re: How do you feel for non-nativesí terrible English?

    How do we feel? In conversation, a native speaker can 'fill in the gaps' and understand what you are saying. I feel an admiration that you have taken the trouble to learn English, while many of others have not attempted a second language.
    HOWEVER - it is a different story when it comes to reading manuals that come with electronic products from Japan and Korea, where specific technical instructions are being conveyed and the English can be incomprehensible. Why can't electronic companies at least ask a native speaker to 'proof-read' their manuals?


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    #4

    Re: How do you feel for non-nativesí terrible English?

    I can generally tell when someone is or isn't trying. I definitely have more respect for someone that is making an effort. If you are learning English for potential job opportunities it is very important to be able to communicate well. Try addressing your elders using non formal words and explain that it's not important you address them respectfully as long as they understand you.


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    #5

    Re: How do you feel for non-nativesí terrible English?

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    Why can't electronic companies at least ask a native speaker to 'proof-read' their manuals?
    I've asked this question many many times in my career. Now I work for a small Japanese company that is asking me to do just that.

    I think David L. is on the right track. When chit-chatting, it doesn't matter so much. When communicating by writing, it gives the impression that you are not so smart or are childish. In the US, most people are not used to communicating with non-native speakers and when they see things written by non-natives, they assume the writer isn't very smart. People who have a lot of experience with non-native speakers understand that this is a mis-conception.

    One example is this: I very often see the words "wanna" and "gonna" written out by non-native speakers. To a native speaker, that makes the writer look like a 3rd or 4th grade student (9 or 10 years old) because we are taught throughout our entire education by our English teachers that there are no such words as "wanna" and "gonna" and most people have quit writing those by the end of 4th grade.

    When I first started working at my current company, I corrected one of our professional translators by telling her she should write "want to" instead of "wanna". She said that in all the years she has been studying English, that was the first time anyone ever told her that.

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    #6

    Re: How do you feel for non-nativesí terrible English?

    Technically, I am a non-native in Canada. However, learing English as a second language at a time in which grammar and spelling were thought of almost like laws brought down by God has made me very aware of both. And, I have been known amongst friends and family to be quite annoying when correcting them.

    You are absolutely correct that words like "wanna"and "gonna" have no place in a business situation, and even when used among friends they make the speaker appear to be maybe a little less intelligent. There is also a very big difference in saying "I want" when "I would like" is more appropriate.

  2. Ouisch's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: How do you feel for non-nativesí terrible English?

    In the US there is such an influx of immigrants (some legal, some not) who refuse to learn English and demand that telephone voicemail menus, income tax forms, and other such things be made available in their native language. So any non-native speaker who makes an attempt to speak English is usually accepted and appreciated, and most Americans will have more patience for a foreigner who attempts to speak English than one who steadfastly remains immersed only in their native tongue.

    However, when it comes to written documents, we will (sorry to say) laugh and poke fun at obvious awkward phraseology and grammar, mainly because since it is a written document (unlike a spoken conversation), someone with a better grasp of English than the original writer should have taken the time to review and correct it. For example, at a luxury-type hotel in Tokyo, there is an instruction card in the room that states "In case of earthquake, please follow the instruction of the broadcast." Well, any native speaker will have a sinking feeling in his heart that the "instruction of the broadcast" won't be in easily-understood English.

  3. supada's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: How do you feel for non-nativesí terrible English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ouisch View Post
    So any non-native speaker who makes an attempt to speak English is usually accepted and appreciated, and most Americans will have more patience for a foreigner who attempts to speak English than one who steadfastly remains immersed only in their native tongue.
    Is it norm in the States or in your opinion? Because I sometimes feel awkward that I have to take more time in producing English when I talk with Americans. I feel sorry for them with my clunky conversation.

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    #9

    Re: How do you feel for non-nativesí terrible English?

    Learning another language is not easy for everyone. The problem that I do have with some non-natives is exactly what has been mentioned, refusing to try and expecting that services are available in one's native language. If I were to move to Moscow, I would expect that I need to learn Russian and quickly.

    I don't mind if someone's English is not perfect, mine certainly isn't either. It is trying your best that counts.

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