My Muse

Top 5 Problems in Communicating in English

Dames en heren…(ok this is in Dutch…)

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been stuck here at my room doing nothing other than going for a walk (not walking my dog coz I dun have any), window shopping n sightseeing, buying groceries, making pancake for dinner, and tidying up my workspace. So, I’d better not waste my time on facebook just to comment on other people’s statuses. Then I post this ^_^

Well, based on my experiences in just first few days here, I make a little temporary assumption that my English is bad. I’m not trying to be humble, not, heheh, but in fact, I realize that at first I didn’t understand what other people said. Frankly, it dampened my spirit =(

But…soon after I adapt to my new environment, local people, my Russian roommate, I understood their saying. It was ridiculous to find that my roommate didn’t understand my meaning at first, either… Phew, I trained my ears to catch up other people’s words n voila! Even I understand vague conversation between two foreigners outside my rooms. I understand what I hear, not only what I listen to…my adaptation works ^_^.

Back then on one of CEEC session when I was invited to be a guest speaker, I shot a question about what people do with their English. I said “think out of the box!” English can bring us anywhere, unveil any opportunities you might miss if you couldn’t speak it, take us to any new places we wanna be, and unequivocally, new friends.

So u’re a future chemical engineer. U are doing ongoing work to graduate with wonders. You might think that English is compulsory, but that’s all.  U might need it later, or might not. Trust me, in this global work, u need English more than ever. I’m a chemical engineer and I have a high expectation on my career. Ok I love English, but who knew that my English was able to take me overseas?

For instance, my EDMAT. Ok I was the best female participant, but the point is I got a lotta friends outside Indonesia, n we still keep in touch by facebook or YM. Whether or not my international friends someday will get me to another bigger opportunity, I still consider that friends are important, especially in global network.

I need to explain what might cause your confusion in communicating with foreign people in English. I’ve found it difficult to deal with:

  • Accent. Accent can be troublesome if you’re speaking with people whose mothertongue isn’t English. For instance, my roommate is Russian. Her English accent is good, but it s very different from those of native speakers. I need to adapt my ears to it so as to understand all words. As time goes by, it becomes easier to understand vast ranges of accents from American to Russian ^_^. Perhaps, it is true that learning a language works it best in native environment. Learning by doing.
  • Idioms. Basic idioms which do not change drastically from its meaning can be understood by beginners, such as “go for a walk, make a decision, have a meal, have a drink, take action, keep hold of, etc”. But for obscure-meaning idioms, such as “once and for all, for good, once and a while, take it for granted, etc” we must look them up to a dictionary. Make an effort to understand commonly used idioms by watching movies, listening to the music, n if u’re lucky to be in English-speaking community, have a try to speak with those people. U’ll absorb a lotta new words n idioms. U’ll get used to commonly spoken words n sentences so you won’t sound strange ^_^.
  • Logic. I’ve no idea on this but I’ll try to explain it as clearly as possible. When in Bahasa Indonesia u say in passive voice : “Jariku sakit”, it sounds natural. But in English u cannot say “My finger’s been hurted”, instead, u say: “I’ve hurt my finger.” Again, I’ve no idea on this but I assume it depends on the way people think, or in other word, logic. Perhaps (this is based on my vague memory of my elementary English teacher saying), it’s obligatory in English minds that everyone is supposed to be responsible for everything he/she does, including “hurting your finger” lols ^_^.
  • Politeness. “Shut up” is harsh and impolite, u’d better say “Be quiet”, instead. There’s different level of politeness in getting people to do something, for example, u can say: Open the door! (this is impolite and can be used only between equals, friends, or in emergency situations). Say, “Can u open the door?” is more polite. Replace “can” with “could” for higher politeness: “Could u open the door?”. But to add extra politeness, use would-u-mind phrase: “Would u mind opening the door?” That’s why I always make a suggestion for everyone to get used to conversations, coz u want to sound more natural, more common, polite, etc. Beware of your words.
  • Pronunciation. Bad pronunciation leads to misunderstanding, that is true. But I’ll show u worse cases on pronuncation, or to be more exact, badly mispronounced words ^_^. Say, u tell your new friend that he should visit ur city beach coz it is wonderful. But, instead he hears it as “beach”, your word is heard as “b*tch*. Next example, “sit” and “sh*t”. Be careful.

Ok guys, I think it s enough to learn today. This blog is not intended to be an English corner ^_^, it s just a blended posts of my overflowing thoughts, especially when I’ve got nothing to do. It’s somewhat better to share informative or inspirative thoughts than to surf the web or facebook for no purpose ^_^. Enjoy reading n commenting!


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