What I’ve observed over the years while being around other foreign English speakers is – oftentimes people would become really emotional about certain aspects of the English language and have heated debates over things that don’t really matter that much when it comes to being able to speak fluent English.
Picture this – you’re sitting at the table during the lunch break with your friends, and the conversation is developing something along these lines:
“Mmmm… I think this is the best chicken curry I’ve ever had, don’t you think so?”
“Did you just say “I fink”? Why are you pronouncing it like that?”
“Well, I guess it’s because I’ve lived in Bristol for a long time, and I started pronouncing the ‘TH’ sound as ‘F …”
“Oh really? Is that how they speak in England? Well, but now you’re living in the States, so I think you should start pronouncing the ‘TH’ sound properly!”
“Well, I haven’t really thought about it… I haven’t really had any problems because of that, people understand me just fine…”
“But it’s plain wrong dude! It’s not proper English, and considering you’re dealing with customers all day long, I really think this is something you should work on!”
“Hey Max, do you really think it’s that important? I think David’s English is really good, and anyone can understand him just fine!”
“Man, you just don’t get it… There are certain rules of the English language that you just can’t ignore, you know?”
And so this argument goes on and on because one of the friends has a very strong opinion on certain aspects of the language, and instead of having a nice chat about the tasty chicken, the time gets wasted on arguing over something that is, as a matter of fact, of no importance at all.
Do you see where I’m coming from?
Life is too short to be spent on talking about stuff that doesn’t matter, however, I’ve noticed this type of thing happen time and time again among foreign English speakers – and not only!
Arguing Over Regional Differences of The English Language
This is a big one – when foreign English speakers move to a particular English speaking country, they’re bound to encounter some irregularities of the English language deriving from the geographical differences, and oftentimes this sparks heated debates.
And it begs the question – is it really worth it?
The way I see it is the following.
The simple fact of the matter is that English is spoken differently around the world. Different accents, dialects, ways of pronouncing words – it’s always been there and always will be, especially when it comes to a language as “big” as English.
Just think about your own native language for a second – I’m 100% sure that it’s spoken differently in different parts of your country, and even small languages having a million native speakers can vary widely depending on a region or a town.
So, which one would you go for – arguing over how a certain thing should be pronounced or having a nice conversation with your friends about something that really matters?
For me it’s a no-brainer – accept the language differences, and enjoy each other’s company! Why waste your time on something that you can’t change anyway, and also possibly ruin a relationship with a friend of yours?
And please don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to say that any such discussion is wrong and should never be attempted.
The point I’m trying to get across is – don’t become emotional about it. When you make it the center of the conversation and try and enforce your opinion on other people, it won’t go down well. People don’t like to be told what to do, they become defensive and will resent you for doing that, even if they won’t say it to your face.
Arguing Over Why Things Are Said a Certain Way in English
Another subject matter a lot of foreign English speakers are wasting their time on is – trying to figure out why you have to say certain things in English in a certain way.
Imagine yourself in a company night out with your work colleagues, and here’s the conversation:
“So Akshara, how do you find this country? How long have you been here, 2 months now, is it?”
“It’s actually 3 months now, and thanks, I like it here, it’s just that I’m struggling with my English. It’s not such an easy language as people say…”
“What? You and struggling with English? Common, your English is perfect!”
“Thanks, yes, I can speak but there are so many things I don’t understand about the language, there are so many grammar rules and exceptions… For example, why do I have to say “If I were you” – it doesn’t make any sense to me!”
“Well, Akshara, you just have to learn how certain things are said and accept them!”
And then another friend chimes in: “Akshara, there’s this grammar rule that stipulates…” – and then ensues a ten minute long grammar discussion at the end of which everyone agrees that English is indeed much tougher than people believe.
Again, I would encourage people to stop being so bogged down on this minutiae of the English language. What’s the point in trying to figure out WHY certain things are said in a certain way? Isn’t it easier just to accept the fact that that’s how you say it, and instead enjoy a nice chat about the weather, or the latest workplace gossip, or whatever – why waste your time on fruitless grammar discussions?
So, my friends, I hope you got the point of today’s article.
It’s not about me telling you what to say, don’t get me wrong – if I tried to do that, I’d be also enforcing my opinion upon you.
It’s all about me trying to encourage you to just use the English language in order to talk with people about stuff that really matters, and even if you decide to delve into the language related matters, don’t become emotional about it!
Treat people nicely, and they’ll treat you the same way, and leave all those grammar and pronunciation related intricacies to language professors who are making a living out of it!
P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!
P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE