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My Opinion on Who the English Language Belongs to…

I don’t think that anyone can claim ownership to the English language and tell foreign English speakers what to do.

And that’s exactly the impression I got while reading this article the other day! 😡

I was thinking that I should probably leave it, but I just couldn’t because I’m a foreign English speaker AND a blogger, I represent my fellow foreigners and I think someone should say something about views expressed in this article.

Basically this is how I understand it:

  • we all foreigner bloggers are the same – bad English, hard to read articles etc;
  • we’re less fortunate than native English speakers having been born in the US;
  • we’d better stop struggling with English writing – leave it to native English speakers!

To be honest with you, I didn’t believe I was reading it!

First of all – the English language isn’t owned by a certain group of people, and it’s most definitely not limited to the United States. Anyone on this planet is entitled to start learning English, and if one wants – start a blog in English.

Secondly – what kind of a message is that article sending out there to foreigners who might be having self-confidence issues? Instead of encouraging them to improve their English writing and keep blogging, Kathy seems to be saying – “Common, be realistic about it – you’re not getting anywhere, better start writing stuff in your native language because that’s what you’re good at!”

When I started blogging in English all those years ago, my writing wasn’t as good as now.

Just read this article and you’ll definitely notice differences between the way I was writing then and now. Had I stopped back then, I wouldn’t have achieved the kind of written fluency I have now!

And what would Kathy say to foreigners like Antonio Banderas who didn’t speak English at the start of his career until his twenties ? “It’s not worth trying – better look for diamonds in your own field (read the end of her blog post to see what I’m talking about here)”

Basically I got an impression that Kathy and a few commentators hold to a view that Americans, Brits and Australians represent the English speaking world, and the rest of the world looks up on them. They’d probably be surprised to find out that there’s millions upon millions of people out there using the English language to communicate with each other, and they’re not native English speakers!

Any comments welcome,

Robby 🙂

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Olga

    That’s
    so true and funny! I even once came across a quote on the Internet that says
    “Don’t laugh at someone’s broken English. At least that one can speak
    another language”. It’s true that not only about Americans but about 90 % of the
    English-speaking world as well as of many other “major” countries.
    Americans just rest on their countries influence’s luarels and have no
    motivtion to trouble themselves by learning any foreign language. But still
    they try to blame the world for that they can’t become as native-like in
    English so for Americans to not have much trouble undertsanding them while on
    vacation abroad! It’s like all the world owe
    them English!

  • Thank you very much Yash!

    I’m actually considering writing a book at some stage and compiling all my strategies, approaches and tips on English fluency management; maybe in a year’s time or so… 😉

  • Yash

    Day by day you are adding valuable piece of information for english learners if somebody compiles all the article you wrote till now in a book  it would come up as the bible of english learning tips , my english speaking skills are improving day by day by reading  and following your valuable articles and tips , all this work and effort you have been putting is really commendable keep up the good work Roby God bless you always !! 

  • Thanks Rayana,

    And I’m really glad you’ve come along since you’ve started reading my blog – comments like yours make all my work here worthwhile!

  • rayana

    i just wanna say that your blog really gives me self confidence and now i can speak confidently despite i make some mistakes but i ‘m fearless to do it and ll the credit goes to you ,so don’t stop what you do please and don’t be angry because there are  a different opinions you cant stop all of them but the certain thing that you provide a great great job for us many thanks to you ..

  • Francisco Javier

    I think you mean “what”, not “how”. Just an observation.

  • How do you call a man who speaks 3 languages: trilingual; 2 languages: bilingual. One language: american. That explains the article.

  • Exactly, I couldn’t agree more with you! Her article isn’t the best read for someone who’s having a hard time dealing with fluency issues, and I know firsthand what such attitude can do to one’s confidence levels.

    Now I know better than taking such opinions to the heart but it’s still upsetting to find out that there are people out there making such grossly wrong over-generalizations about us, foreign English speakers.

  • Well… Sometimes it’s necessary to vent your anger and get it out of the system! 😉

  • Francisco Javier

    I have read her article and I think she assumes too much. She seems to be saying that there’s no hope for learners to become proficient speakers (or writers) in English. That couldn’t be more wrong.

    She is right in saying that foreign learners struggle with English. Of course they do, for the simple reason that they are still learning the language. As they make more and more progress, they will eventually be able to express themselves fluently and accurately in English.

    Rather than saying that learners should perhaps direct their efforts towards their own language, she should encourage them to make the most of their time and resources to master English. Incidentally, some of the comments on that site show mistakes which I wouldn’t make myself in my native language.

    So, it’s not a question of being or not a foreigner. You have to put in the time and effort to master any language, including your very own.

  • Pingback: Barriers, bloggers, and just WHAT was she thinking!?()

  • Inhigoalai

    HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAAHA Come on! Don´t be so angry, dude!

  • Thanks, I really appreciate your comment!

  • Thanks!

  • Dirantmendes

    I totally agree with you. Although you’re not a native English speaker, you’ve been doing a great job by providing us with useful tips and by sharing your own experience as a non native English speaker. your blog is undoubtedly one of the best I have come across up until now. Thanks!!!!

  • KMU

    Well said!