How To Communicate With A Native English Speaker

The basis of this post is to help non-native speakers of language to understand how to approach with a English speaker. However, this post is written in English, my preferred language of communication. In writing this post, I speak to the mind of a non-native English speaker, hopefully shedding some light on how he thinks, behaves and sees the world of English from his native mindset.

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# In native English families, it is not uncommon to hear greeting phrases like ‘Good morning’, ‘How are you?’, ‘How are you today?’ When they become familiar with you, they will also use your first name instead of Ms, Mrs or Mr. They may also say ‘Hi guys!’, ‘What’s up?’ or ‘How is it going?’ They all mean the same. Your respond will always have to be, “I am fine, thank you.”

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# You may be offered a handshake when you first meet. Then when you meet them again and again, they’ll probably decide to give you hugs. You do not have to respond to them wishing to give you a warm hug because the idea of hugging one another may not be part of culture. If you do receive a hug and do not wish to be hugged, put the palms of your hands together and nod gently away. Or if you meet them again next time, stand away as you say ‘Hello’. Send a message with your body that you prefer just to say hello without a hug. Do you hug or shake hands with your spouse’s girlfriend who you bumped into at the local grocery store? Think along that line. Your body and eyes can easily send messages that “It’s a pleasure to see you here. How are you?” And you really do not need to exchange hugs for a friendly exchange of greetings.

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# Look right at the eyes of your listener and do not nod your head at every sentence. He may think you understand everything he says when in fact you are simply acknowledging you’ve heard what he’s said and would expect him to explain what he has just said. If you understand what he has said, affirm it by repeating it out loud, “So you want to order Mee Rebus, Nasi Ayam and Hor Fun? And a bottle of coco-cola?” If you say nothing and nod your head, or say ‘yes’ and nod your head, it is equivalent to saying “I fully understand you.” Be careful! You really don’t always fully understand the native speaker until you respond appropriately either by action or rephrasing in your own sentences.

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# If you hear running words like, “You wanna come?” or “What’s-it like?” Ask them to repeat again slowly and try to hear again for pauses, so you fully understand how a word ends and begins.

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# Do not show that you need them to repeat themselves aloud because you gain nothing from listening to the same sentence you don’t understand spoken aloud anyway. Speak your mind, “Don’t understand. Yes. What you say?” # If you hear ‘yah, really, i see, yep, huh, hummm…” Don’t feel that you are less proficient if you do not know any slang word or colloquial languages; you are better off not knowing any. (“The food is beautiful!” “How do you like your mug shot!”)

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# If you have requested them to repeat themselves, wait for the respond. Sometimes, they think you don’t understand and they therefore have to rephrase everything to make it simpler for you to comprehend. “May I have your name please?” turns into “What is your name?” If you keep asking, you may be interrupting their thought process.

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# They do not fully comprehend or may not know your culture background, so don’t just sit there and expect the angels to come knocking on their heads and hearts to send empathy potions. Open up and start asking questions, “Why, what, where…?” Show you are interested or don’t understand. The only way you can remember to improve English is to ask the same questions they have been asking you all this time, “Can you repeat? I don’t understand.”

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# Ask as many questions as you like around the same subject, in different ways and manners, in broken or proper grammar. If it is about the word is in the present tense, ask for the past, present, perfect, past participle, continuous, be aggressive in your mind, you know more from asking about the same subject then asking just one question on multiple subjects.

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# Talk less, listen more. Same goes with the teacher. Respond when one has finished his sentence. If you are not sure when he has finished his sentence, raise your hands (in the classroom), or just prompt him with ‘Excuse me.”

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# Lastly, be clear if you understand. Be explicit. If you are correct in your listening comprehension, your native speaker will tell you so….they have almost every vocabulary to suit the moment of expression. So do not worry. You’ll hear it well enough, “That is correct.” That means you have understood correctly. If he says, “You are right.” Ask him, “Do you mean I have to go left.” He needs the correction just as much.

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# Make sure you are heard as well. If you need to drink, tell them so. Do not just gaze away from your native friend. Say “excuse me”. If you do not know how to say anything else and really have to go, use your hands or body language! “Excuse me. I drink first ok. *cough*” Your native friend, if he is observant, will surely respond, “Oh, do you need a drink?” Pause. Nod your head. “Sure. Please.”

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How To Communicate With A Native English Speaker

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