BNAOWB
Topic Author
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English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:31 pm

If you are not a native speaker of English, what was the most difficult part of learning English (aside from our very difficult spelling)? Are there any words or sounds that you still struggle to pronounce correctly? If you have learned other languages, was learning English harder or easier than learning the other languages? Are you able to easily recognize whether someone is American, English, Scottish, Irish, Australian, etc., by their accent? If so, when in your English learning did you become able to do so? Does spoken English sound at all similar to any other language you know?
 
Luftfahrer
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:50 pm

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
what was the most difficult part of learning English (aside from our very difficult spelling)?

Can't think of one (not even spelling, which I think is not difficult at all, try French!).

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
Are there any words or sounds that you still struggle to pronounce correctly?

Same as above.

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
If you have learned other languages, was learning English harder or easier than learning the other languages?

Waaaay easier than French, and even Spanish  
Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
Are you able to easily recognize whether someone is American, English, Scottish, Irish, Australian, etc., by their accent?

Pretty easy for me to distinguish between American, Australian and UK English, although I think I wouldn't be able to determine who exactly is Welsh, Irish or Scottish  
Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
If so, when in your English learning did you become able to do so?

Rather early...

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
Does spoken English sound at all similar to any other language you know?

No.

By the way: While in the US I was once asked if my dialect was British or Australian.  laughing 

[Edited 2010-03-18 14:51:42]
'He resembled a pilot, which to a seaman is trustworthiness personified.' Joseph Conrad
 
Sabena332
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:12 pm

Great topic!

As a German, I agree with every answer given in the reply above by Luftfahrer!

Additionally I have to say:

Quoting Luftfahrer (Reply 1):
Waaaay easier than French, and even Spanish

I am learning Spanish and it is way more difficult than learning English. This is probably because English is everywhere, even in the German every-day language nowadays (e.g. "meeting", "smoking lounge", "zapping", etc.). Another thing is that I am posting frequently here on A.net, that keeps my English knowledge up to date. Maybe I should register in some Spanish writing forum as well?

Quoting Luftfahrer (Reply 1):
Pretty easy for me to distinguish between American, Australian and UK English, although I think I wouldn't be able to determine who exactly is Welsh, Irish or Scottish

Same here, the Brit dialects are quite hard to distinguish for me. But the more English speaking people you meet while travelling, the easier is it to recognize where they are from judging by their accent.

And I have to say it again: The most easiest to understand English accent is "California English". The people there speak the best English IMO, very easy to understand! Place #2 on my list makes British English when properly spoken (A.net member MYT332 is a role model when it comes to this, he was talking to me and I could understand every word despite I already had 6 pints   ).

Quoting Luftfahrer (Reply 1):
By the way: While in the US I was once asked if my dialect was British or Australian.

Brits once thought that I am American, Americans once thought that I am a Brit. 

Patrick
NZ1's mother is a disgusting crack-whore and his father is a worthless alcoholic!
 
Gemuser
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:16 pm

Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 2):
Place #2 on my list makes British English when properly spoken (A.net member MYT332 is a role model when it comes to this, he was talking to me and I could understand every word despite I already had 6 pints ).

That wasn't "British English"! That was "6 pint English" a totally different language!  

Gemuser
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Sabena332
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:17 pm

Quoting gemuser (Reply 3):
That wasn't "British English"! That was "6 pint English" a totally different language!

        

Hilarious! 

Patrick
NZ1's mother is a disgusting crack-whore and his father is a worthless alcoholic!
 
Daysleeper
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:40 pm

Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 2):
And I have to say it again: The most easiest to understand English accent is "California English".

Do you think thats because of the movies? hence it would be the accent people are exposed too the most....

I spend alot of time in the USA and always thought the Boston/MA accent to be the most clear english. Although to me East and West coast people sound very similar anyway, not like the differances between North and South....
 
Sabena332
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:51 pm

Quoting Daysleeper (Reply 5):
Do you think thats because of the movies?

No, that doesn't apply to the common German. We see all movies on TV in the German dubbed version. When you want to watch a movie in the original language, you must buy the DVD or go to the cinema.

Quoting Daysleeper (Reply 5):
I spend alot of time in the USA and always thought the Boston/MA accent to be the most clear english. Although to me East and West coast people sound very similar anyway, not like the differances between North and South....

I agree, East-Coast English is also easy to understand.

Patrick
NZ1's mother is a disgusting crack-whore and his father is a worthless alcoholic!
 
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SOBHI51
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:05 pm

I can not say it was difficult for me to learn English. I began my education by studying both French and Arabic. when i was 12 i started learning English. That's why it was easy. The lucky part that if i did the opposte English and then French i would have failed.
French is a much harder language to master. The only difficulty i face in English is while typing,can not do 2 things at a time type and correct spelling, to top it all my check spelling has not been working for a while.

Well i graduated from Cairo then worked in London for few years, the shock came when i was moved to the USA, i was posted in Montgommery Alabama, with all due respect, spoken English in those parts of the South has nothing to do with what i've learned, but people in the South are really very Friendly, they did not mind repeating what they say twice sometimes more so i can understand. Spent over a year there and really miss it.
I am against any terrorist acts committed under the name of Islam
 
Daysleeper
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:12 pm

Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 6):
No, that doesn't apply to the common German. We see all movies on TV in the German dubbed version. When you want to watch a movie in the original language, you must buy the DVD or go to the cinema.

Good point, I didn’t think about the dubbing. And I should have as, not so long ago I was reading an article about the Terminator movies. Well with Arnold Schwarzenegger being a native German speaker he wanted to do the dubbing, but the produces refused to let him as apparently his Austrian accent to the then West Germans would make the Terminator sound like a farmer LOL.
 
AM744
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:18 pm

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
If you are not a native speaker of English, what was the most difficult part of learning English (aside from our very difficult spelling)?

Phrasal verbs and use of prepositions because there are no apparent rules. Those are the trickiest questions in exams because more than one answer appears reasonable. Mmm.... Is it 'married to' or 'married with'?   They are to be memorized or otherwise learned through use.

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
Are there any words or sounds that you still struggle to pronounce correctly?

Not really. Buy I find that native Spanish speakers not proficient in English struggle with the 'th' sound and insist in pronouncing all vowels as long. Then again, movies, music and interaction with native speakers helps a lot. You can 'imitate' pronunciation, so to speak.

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
If you have learned other languages, was learning English harder or easier than learning the other languages?

Harder than the French that I've been teaching myself. From a Spanish speaker perspective, I've found that if you don't take English classes from an early childhood, you'll never become proficient, especially when it comes to speaking it. I know, because in my job we deal with US based staff on a daily basis, and there IS a difference between our staff members that took classes from childhood and those that learned as adults.

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
Are you able to easily recognize whether someone is American, English, Scottish, Irish, Australian, etc., by their accent?

American, English and Australian, yes. If Scottish sounds like the guys in 'Trainspotting' then yes, I'd recognize it. Irish, no.

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
If so, when in your English learning did you become able to do so?

British and American from the beginning. Others, in advanced courses.

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
Does spoken English sound at all similar to any other language you know?

No.
 
racko
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:21 pm

Squirrel. Terrible word.  
 
Sabena332
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:47 am

Quoting Daysleeper (Reply 8):
Arnold Schwarzenegger being a native German speaker

He is from Austria, they are speaking a completely differnt language!  
Quoting racko (Reply 10):
Squirrel. Terrible word.

I agree!

Patrick
NZ1's mother is a disgusting crack-whore and his father is a worthless alcoholic!
 
BNAOWB
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:03 am

Quoting racko (Reply 10):
Squirrel. Terrible word.

If it is any consolation, my 6.5 year-old son, a native English speaker, cannot say it correctly.

Quoting Luftfahrer (Reply 1):
Can't think of one (not even spelling, which I think is not difficult at all, try French!).

So far, it sounds like English is not difficult to learn for German speakers. Perhaps this is because English is considered a Germanic language? I was thinking that perhaps English is severely overrated as a difficult language to learn until I read:

Quoting AM744 (Reply 9):
From a Spanish speaker perspective, I've found that if you don't take English classes from an early childhood, you'll never become proficient, especially when it comes to speaking it.

So, perhaps, English is considerably more challenging for speakers of non-Germanic languages?
 
cptkrell
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:13 am

In all seriousness, when I was in high school in Miami, FL area, spanish became rather easy as a "second" language to at least communicate two ways even if not with perfect fluency. Fast forward to the late 1960's when I lived in Germany; out of respect I tried my hardest to learn all I could to communicate with my German guests, but was invariably confounded by the different "accents" between German states. It was very difficult, but I suceeded (I think) in not ofending anyone.

Having talked to many "foreigners", my consensus is that english is the most difficult anguage to learn "from start" for older people who have rarely or never had to communicate in english.

Hey, I'm about a trillion years old english-speaking person and I can't even get it right yet. Ahhwwl regahdz...jack
all best; jack
 
Lufthansa411
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:18 am

Growing up in NY but with German grandparents, I learned both English and Plaatdeutsch (a dialect of German that mixes English, German, Dutch and a bit of Danish). Speaking with German speakers here, I notice that many of them do not know what to do with the English "V" as in German the "W" makes an English "V" sound, except for some reason, when many Germans try to use the English "V" comically it morphs into a "W". Funny when you hear a German saying I am going for a Wisit instead of Visit. Two VERY different words, as any 8 year old English speaker will tell you.

Quoting Daysleeper (Reply 8):
Well with Arnold Schwarzenegger being a native German speaker he wanted to do the dubbing, but the produces refused to let him as apparently his Austrian accent to the then West Germans would make the Terminator sound like a farmer LOL.

Kindergarten Cop was on the other night here, dubbed in German. It was funny hearing an "average" German speak Arnold's dialogue, and not Arnold himself. I wouldn't mind him doing his own voice in the dubbing, as he doesn't speak Schwyzerdütsch.  
Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.
 
andaman
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:32 am

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
Are there any words or sounds that you still struggle to pronounce correctly?

For me it was first hard to pronounce v and w correctly, in Finnish they sound the same.
And still I sometimes mix 'he' and 'she', the Finnish grammar doesn't separate genders. And all the prepositions in English, they don't always come naturally to me, once again different from Finnish...

As my native language is not a Germanic language, not even Indo-European, it hasn't given much help with learning English. Luckily the language studies start early in Finland, usually from the 3rd grade.

[Edited 2010-03-18 18:48:44]
Chinese cookie in SFO: "You're doomed to a life of forever travelling abroad and to be able to afford it!"
 
ajd1992
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:35 am

Quoting BNAOWB (Reply 12):
So far, it sounds like English is not difficult to learn for German speakers. Perhaps this is because English is considered a Germanic language? I was thinking that perhaps English is severely overrated as a difficult language to learn until I read:

Pretty much and it works the other way too.

Example:

Hallo - Hello
Ja - Yes
Nein - No
Haus - House

Speaking English opens up a lot of languages, especially European ones. Knowing even a little bit of German, I can read a little bit of Danish and Swedish as well. Don't even ask me about speaking it though   I can say "Kan du hjælp mig? and that's about it  

German I found very easy to learn with a lot of things sounding similar. The grammar was a different story though... and people say English is hard to learn, we don't have 16 words for "the"! (Yes, sixteen...). I'm sure even complex German isn't too hard but anybody can speak basic German provided they speak English fluently. Some stuff is just backwards though - for example, the word for gloves is handschuh. Translated literally it means handshoes.... Care to explain that, Deutsch-lautsprache?  

French was a pain in the arse though - I hated it. I can only remember Je mal à la tête (I have a headache) and that's about it.
 
AverageUser
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:48 am

Quoting Andaman (Reply 15):
And still I sometimes mix 'he' and 'she', the Finnish grammar doesn't separate genders.

Yep, same here. I would not call it "mixing", but "slipping", it's so instinctive. To me spelling has not been a major problem. What has taken a lot of work however is the use of the English articles (a/an & the) Here again, our major branch of languages does not formally have any, most Finns would underuse and walk away happy.

English is a such a mishmash. In Finnish one can for instance add "epä-" to the beginning of almost any word, and hey presto you will have it negated. English has got "un-", "in-", "non-", "ill-", "anti-" and that's just the beginning.
 
ajd1992
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:04 am

Quoting AverageUser (Reply 17):
Yep, same here. I would not call it "mixing", but "slipping", it's so instinctive. To me spelling has not been a major problem. What has taken a lot of work however is the use of the English articles (a/an & the) Here again, our major branch of languages does not formally have any, most Finns would underuse and walk away happy

I don't mean to sound rude, but why do these cause a problem? It follows a very easy rule (An for A/E/I/O/U and A for everything else) but then to me that might just seem easy because I only speak English fluently.

Also, why does "The" pose a problem? It's part of how to construct a sentence, much like adding a descriptive word except we only have 1 word for "the". We don't give a crap about gender and case like the Germans or the French  
 
MadameConcorde
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:18 am

I had the Beatles to learn English - from 1962. - This is how it started
-writing the song titles by memory-

She loves you
Love me do
Please please me
I saw her standing there
Twist and shout
Anna
Do you want to know a secret
Taste of honey

I went to see them in concert. Once in London and once in Paris. I was way too young for Hamburg.
I followed them from beginning to end. I was proud to have them Fab Four for private English tutors.
Learning English wasn't difficult with the Beatles.
There was a better way to fly it was called Concorde
 
TurkishWings
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:46 am

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
If you are not a native speaker of English, what was the most difficult part of learning English (aside from our very difficult spelling)?

English is propably one of the easiest languages when it comes to spelling... In "most" cases, pretty straight forward... I learnt English when I was 11 in a matter of months...

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
Are there any words or sounds that you still struggle to pronounce correctly?

Nope, not really...

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
If you have learned other languages, was learning English harder or easier than learning the other languages?

Definitely easier... I started studying French in high school and even though it has been over 15 years, I still can't speak or write French properly...

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
Are you able to easily recognize whether someone is American, English, Scottish, Irish, Australian, etc., by their accent?

Yep... I can even tell if the person is French or German or Swiss, Russian, Chinese or Arabic when they are speaking English   Of course if they have an accent....

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
If so, when in your English learning did you become able to do so?

Right after I started traveling internationally and started watching movies in their original languages...

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
Does spoken English sound at all similar to any other language you know?

There are words that are similar in many languages but none of them resembles English directly in my experience... However, recently when I was in the Philippines, I thought their language sounded like "American English" probably because they were using English half the time when they were speaking in their own language... Any enlightenment on that?

Quoting Andaman (Reply 15):
the Finnish grammar doesn't separate genders.

Same goes for Turkish... Probably because of the similar roots of both languages I guess... When you are talking about your boyfriend/girlfriend, you can do so for hours without making the other person realize if it's a he or she that you are talking about...Helps a lot  
Coffee - Tea or Me?
 
vandenheuvel
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:01 am

Quoting ajd1992 (Reply 16):
German I found very easy to learn with a lot of things sounding similar.

That's funny. I've had a very hard time studying German. Its very similar to Dutch and yet I have a hard time being understood in German.

English is a more different language, and I was not having too much trouble learning it. I quess you'll have to judge whether its on an acceptable level or not.
 
kappel
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:10 am

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
Are there any words or sounds that you still struggle to pronounce correctly?

Nope. My English is quite good, I can even recognize mistakes in other people's grammar (like, he is speaking English, should be he speaks English, unless he is indeed talking at the time of course). I learned English at a young age, about 7/8 years. How? From TV!!! When I was young, I lived in Surinam and we had US and UK programming without subtitles. At some point, I just started to understand what they were saying.

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
If you have learned other languages, was learning English harder or easier than learning the other languages?

Very easy, see above.

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
Are you able to easily recognize whether someone is American, English, Scottish, Irish, Australian, etc., by their accent? If so, when in your English learning did you become able to do so?

It's not always easy, but some people have a very pronounced accent and some don't. Americans are usually pretty easy to spot, however Canadians can sometimes sound quite similar. The Irish do have a unique accent (which I find very charming with women, haha). Aussies are usually also easy to spot.

Quoting BNAOWB (Thread starter):
Does spoken English sound at all similar to any other language you know?

No, not really.
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ajd1992
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:12 am

Quoting vandenheuvel (Reply 21):
That's funny. I've had a very hard time studying German. Its very similar to Dutch and yet I have a hard time being understood in German.

English is a more different language, and I was not having too much trouble learning it. I quess you'll have to judge whether its on an acceptable level or not

I've heard spoken Dutch and it sounds very unlike German. Written, it does look very similar though. The Dutch spit too much for my liking.  

Your English is good for the most part. There's a few grammar mistakes and 1 spelling mistake but I had no problems understanding it. I find most Dutch people to be very fluent in English as well as having almost no accent, much like the Danes and the Germans.


I'll bold the corrections for you. (Not to be patronising, I know how hard it is to get all the apostrophes in the right place, I had to learn it once too  )

That's funny. I had a very hard time studying German. It's very similar to Dutch and yet I have a hard time being understood in German.

English is a much different language, I didn't have too much trouble learning it. I guess you'll have to judge whether it's on an acceptable level or not.

[Edited 2010-03-19 02:13:45]

[Edited 2010-03-19 02:39:42]
 
TurkishWings
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:19 am

Quoting ajd1992 (Reply 23):
and I didn't having too much trouble learning it.

"I didn't have too much trouble learning it" maybe  
Coffee - Tea or Me?
 
kappel
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:23 am

Quoting ajd1992 (Reply 23):
and I didn't having too much trouble learning it.

One more correction: I didn't HAVE too much trouble learning it  
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kappel
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:24 am

Quoting TurkishWings (Reply 24):
"I didn't have too much trouble learning it" maybe

Haha, you beat me to it...
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vandenheuvel
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:32 am

Quoting ajd1992 (Reply 23):
I'll bold the corrections for you.

Thank you for that.

It's shocking to see how much is actually wrong. The Guess thing is very obvious now, as it's not the same as the beginning of the word question.

I used to be mixing up Which and Witch. I'm glad someone this forum pointed that out for me.

Tim,
 
ajd1992
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:39 am

Ok, apparently my English is worse than yours  

To be fair - I am surviving on 5 hours of broken sleep and I'm quite stressed at the moment as I've got my driving test later on. Not an excuse barring you shouldn't listen to me, the rest of it was correct though   (You know your English is bad as a native when 2 non native speakers pull you up on it...  )

[Edited 2010-03-19 02:41:19]
 
vandenheuvel
Posts: 479
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:57 am

Quoting ajd1992 (Reply 28):
Ok, apparently my English is worse than yours

Why is that? I haven't corrected you for anything.

Quoting ajd1992 (Reply 28):
I am surviving on 5 hours of broken sleep and I'm quite stressed at the moment as I've got my driving test later on.

Time for a difficult word, I sympathize for you. Driving tests are terrible. Good luck though  

Tim,
 
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SOBHI51
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 10:12 am

Quoting ajd1992 (Reply 28):
To be fair - I am surviving on 5 hours of broken sleep and I'm quite stressed at the moment as I've got my driving test later on

I went through that test. One advice make sure that you look often at the back mirror and remember, right, left and right again.
Brake a leg.
I am against any terrorist acts committed under the name of Islam
 
ajd1992
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 10:15 am

Quoting vandenheuvel (Reply 29):
Why is that? I haven't corrected you for anything

TurkishWings and Kappel did   It was just a really obvious mistake so I corrected it.

Thanks for the good luck, I'll be honest, I'm not feeling that great about it.
 
AverageUser
Posts: 1824
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 6:21 pm

RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:57 am

Quoting ajd1992 (Reply 18):
It follows a very easy rule (An for A/E/I/O/U and A for everything else) but then to me that might just seem easy because I only speak English fluently.

Actually, U is often preceded by an "a" as well ("e.g. a university"). The choosing between a/an is not the problem. The problem is to grasp why you should say "the Concorde", for instance, when to a Finn "Concorde" would seem to suffice perfectly. Quickly, what's the difference between "going to sea" and "going to the sea"?
 
jush
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Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2005 2:10 am

RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:01 pm

Quoting ajd1992 (Reply 23):
Germans

Are you serious? Real Germans have the strongest accent I know. Well at least they range up high with Indians in one league.
There is one problem with airbus. Though their products are engineering marvels they lack passion, completely.
 
kappel
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:18 pm

Quoting ajd1992 (Reply 31):
TurkishWings and Kappel did

Haha, don't worry about it. That happens to everybody.

Quoting vandenheuvel (Reply 27):
used to be mixing up Which and Witch

Haha, big difference indeed. Just to point out, it's: "I used to mix up Which and Witch". This is a very common mistake in English by Dutch people. IIRC it's the difference between past perfect and past simple (voltooid en onvoltooid verleden tijd).

I guess it has to do with translating Dutch grammar literaly into English. No biggie though, everybody understands what you mean perfectly and that's what matters.

[Edited 2010-03-19 05:19:25]
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Gemuser
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:25 pm

Quoting AverageUser (Reply 32):
"going to sea" and "going to the sea"

The first means "going [on to] the sea", such as a sailor or ship does, where as" go to the sea" means going to the beach or shore line.

Gemuser
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vandenheuvel
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:36 pm

Quoting Kappel (Reply 34):
everybody understands what you mean perfectly and that's what matters.

And yet it's emberassing  
Quoting Kappel (Reply 34):
"I used to mix up Which and Witch".

Thanks for correcting me again. It has something to do with a very bad english teacher. If she's worth being called a teacher. I also make this mistake because of a letter that ended with "I look forward to hearing from you". Why isn't it "I look forward to hear from you"? As that makes a lot more sense in my mind.

I guess I have to find this out to guarantee a perfect forum  

Tim,
 
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:36 pm

Quoting AverageUser (Reply 32):
Actually, U is often preceded by an "a" as well ("e.g. a university"). The choosing between a/an is not the problem.

I'm not an English teacher (far from it, really,) but as far as the A/AN rules go, I've found that there are exceptions to both, as it entirely depends on how easy it is to roll off the tongue.

Normal: An Apple, An Umbrella, A Xylophone
Exceptions: An X-ray, A Unicorn
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AverageUser
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:45 pm

Quoting gemuser (Reply 35):
The first means "going [on to] the sea", such as a sailor or ship does, where as" go to the sea" means going to the beach or shore line

Yep, that's a difference a small word does. In my line of work they will have to come out just right, so there's this project to imitate a (or is it "the") native speaker the best I can. It certainly would be an easier task if I were a native speaker of a Germanic or a Romance language instead of something completely different.
 
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:09 pm

Quoting vandenheuvel (Reply 36):
As that makes a lot more sense in my mind.

Hear is "luisteren" and hearing from you is, "van je te horen". That's the difference.

Similar to the which and witch argument I guess, hahaha.

[Edited 2010-03-19 06:10:00]
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:15 pm

Kappel, thanks again for your advice.

It makes so much sense when it's explained like this. I think you could make this so clear because you can also think about it from a 'dutch' perspective.

Tim,
 
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:41 pm

Quoting vandenheuvel (Reply 40):
It makes so much sense when it's explained like this. I think you could make this so clear because you can also think about it from a 'dutch' perspective.

If you want a good laugh about many common mistakes made in English by Dutch speaking people (myself certainly not excluded, I've made some very funny mistakes in public as well, hahaha), check out the book "I always get my sin". It's a riot!
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:03 pm

I was born and raised in Hong Kong. Learning English was extremely difficult for me, despite the fact that I had a few classes in English when I was in primary school, as it was a compulsory subject. But the English taught in Hong Kong schools at the time was very, very basic. While I breezed through spelling, I found grammar to be particularly difficult, with its various rules and exceptions to those rules.

If there are words I still struggle to pronounce, then there are very few. One, perhaps, is "fuel" - when I say it, it sounds like "few". It's more likely that I'd stumble upon words when stringing together a sentence, because I can't speak as fast as I think.

I learnt Japanese in high school, and to be honest, I found it easier than learning English. Japanese and Chinese share not only some characters in common, but also some grammatical rules, which are basically the complete opposite of English grammatical rules. Perhaps my background in Chinese helped.

Am I able to distinguish between different accents? Yes. As long as they are native speakers of English, I can usually tell just by their accent where they're from. But for someone who speaks English as a second language, their accent might sound "foreign" to me - e.g. I won't be able to tell the difference between an Italian and a Spaniard speaking English in their respective accents. An interesting anecdote is that I had partially learnt the language not by socialising with friends and practising it, but by watching James Bond movies. The English accent (as spoken by Bernard Lee) was the first of the accents that I could distinguish from others. Perhaps that's why people who have heard me speak tell me that I speak with a hint of an English accent, despite having never been to the UK.

I started picking up the difference in accents very early on. When I was in high school, I remember being able to pick out that my Year 8 English teacher is American, and my Year 10 English teacher is Canadian. I also had a Welsh maths teacher who I didn't pick out to be Welsh ... I thought he was Scottish ...
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AM744
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:03 pm

Quoting BNAOWB (Reply 12):
So, perhaps, English is considerably more challenging for speakers of non-Germanic languages?

Sure. I know people that claim to have become proficient in Portuguese in one year and in French in eighteen months. Both are Romance languages. On the other hand, English proficiency takes YEARS (for us).
 
seemyseems
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 6:14 pm

For some reason, I find it really easy to pick up on German words and phrases. Perhaps its the Germanic link. However learning French is very hard, mastering the masculine and feminine is the worst part.

Short question: can you guys recognise English spoken regional accents? (e.g. a Lancashire accent or a Glaswegian accent).
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ajd1992
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 6:41 pm

Quoting jush (Reply 33):
Are you serious? Real Germans have the strongest accent I know. Well at least they range up high with Indians in one league

It might be strong but it's very easy on the ears and understandable (at least to me). I've spent a lot of time in Germany as well as doing it at school so I'm used to to hearing the language and the accents, maybe that's why I don't see it as too bad, who knows.

I find it easier to understand a German with a thick Bavarian accent speaking English than a Scot from right up north speaking German, put it that way  .
 
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SOBHI51
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:37 pm

Quoting ajd1992 (Reply 28):
and I'm quite stressed at the moment as I've got my driving test later on.

So how did you do in the test???
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UAL747
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:49 pm

I learned French from 5-12 grade. The problem I still have with French is the Le's and La's. I don't understand the need to categorize things as masculine or feminine, but such is the language.

A great thing about learning a Latin-based language, is that it's fairly easy to at least understand concepts of other Latin-based languages when written on paper.

In college, I attempted for 3 years, which is a minor, to learn Mandarin. Don't even go there because it's almost all gone from memory. Out of all the classes I took, that was one of the most difficult classes that I have taken and one that required the most time.

I find that Germanic languages, while they look VERY complicated, are often easy to figure out if you know English. I can't speak a lick of German, but I can look at it and sometimes figure out general ideas.

Anything else, I'm not capable.
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mayor
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:06 pm

Quoting Luftfahrer (Reply 1):

By the way: While in the US I was once asked if my dialect was British or Australian.
Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 2):
Brits once thought that I am American, Americans once thought that I am a Brit.

That's not as funny as it sounds. I've noticed that non-native English speakers tend to pick up the accent of whoever they were learning English from. I have heard Germans speaking English and in some cases there was, indeed, a British accent.

Quoting Kappel (Reply 22):
however Canadians can sometimes sound quite similar.

Usually Canadians sound very similar to Americans, except the pronounciation of certain words gives them away.
Hoose for house, aboot for about, etc.


There are indeed different usages of certain words of English within the U.S. For example, my wife, who is from the south, would say "The dog is laying IN the floor" while I (from the midwest) would say, "The dog is laying ON the floor".
I don't know if that is a general rule thruout the south. I never noticed it until we got married.
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ajd1992
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RE: English Language Questions For Non-native Speakers

Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:14 pm

Quoting SOBHI51 (Reply 46):
So how did you do in the test???

I passed   4 minor faults, all really stupid mistakes and she was a right miserable cow but I passed. First time as well, I have bragging rights  
Quoting mayor (Reply 48):
There are indeed different usages of certain words of English within the U.S. For example, my wife, who is from the south, would say "The dog is laying IN the floor" while I (from the midwest) would say, "The dog is laying ON the floor".
I don't know if that is a general rule thruout the south. I never noticed it until we got married.

That doesn't even make sense. I have an image of a half submerged dog now.  

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