as a foreigner

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GeneD

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I often say that "as a foreigner, I don't understand this or that". Is it natural to say so? The reason why I'm asking is that I can't remember anyone ever say this except myself, of course. :)
 

Tdol

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Are you talking about not understanding the actual words or missing something cultural?
 

GeneD

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Are you talking about not understanding the actual words or missing something cultural?
I was talking about the language mainly. For example, "As a foreigner, I can't understand all nuances the present perfect tense can convey".
And now I'm curious if there would be a difference in expressing some cultural not understanding. :)
 
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GeneD

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Or should it be, when talking about the language, "non-native speaker" instead of "foreigner"?
 
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Rover_KE

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Yes—I think that would be better. IMO, you're only a foreigner when you're in a country which is not your homeland.
 

GeneD

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I've always had a vague idea what "non-native speaker" exactly means. I've just looked up this word in a couple of dictionaries and found the following:
1. https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/non-native-speaker
2. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/ru/словарь/английский/non-native-speaker

What confuses me is that, in the first definition, the NNS is learning a language and, in the second, has already learned it. Do you call an NNS any learner of a foreign language, or is there some hierarchy and in its turn some stage when someone who's learning a second language becomes an NNS? :)
 
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Matthew Wai

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I believe many NNSs who have learned a language are still learning it.
 

GeneD

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I believe many NNSs who have learned a language are still learning it.
Yes, it seems to be a never-ending process. But at what stage does a learner become an NNS, and is there this stage?
 

Matthew Wai

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I think a learner counts as an NNS as long as s/he can communicate with a native speaker.
 

GeneD

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As a non-native speaker, I often mix up some tenses.
As a learner (of English), I often mix up some tenses.


Does the second sentence sound natural? And do they have the same meaning?
 

GoesStation

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As a non-native speaker, I often mix up some tenses.
As a learner (of English), I often mix up some tenses.


Does the second sentence sound natural? And do they have the same meaning?
Yes, and yes.
 

GeneD

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How would you, native speakers, describe the notion of "non-native speaker"? Putting aside the mentioned dictionary definitions.
 
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Raymott

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"He's/I'm not a native speaker."
But that goes without saying here. It's in your profile. We often have students responding to corrections with "Sorry, I'm not a native speaker", and similar. It's unnecessary.
 

GoesStation

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How would you, native speakers, describe the notion of "non-native speaker"? Putting aside the mentioned dictionary definitions.

A non-native speaker is a person for whom mine is a second language. Anyone with more than a very halting command of my language falls under the rubric. It says nothing about their degree of fluency.
 

Tdol

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How would you, native speakers, describe the notion of "non-native speaker"? Putting aside the mentioned dictionary definitions.

There are some people here who have learned English as a second language but are not distinguishable from native speakers. I would use some like the Turing Test. There are plenty of very fluent speakers who can use English in very demanding situations but who everyone knows are not natives. If you can convince a native, you're native, no matter when you learned it.
 

GoesStation

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If you can convince a native, you're native, no matter when you learned it.
I'm not sure I can agree with that. My father, who was only three when he arrived, learned English on the streets of New York and naturally has no trace of a foreign accent or foreign usages. My mother was eighteen when she first set foot in an Anglophone country and naturally never lost her Polish accent (though I couldn't hear it till I left home for college!). Her written English was indistinguishable from that of a native speaker, so she'd pass the traditional Turing test, but her spoken English instantly revealed her foreign origin.
 
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