49

I'm not sure I will be able to pronounce that correctly, but I would like to try my best. Would you be willing to help me try to get it right? I've encountered this problem often, and I've never had anyone take offense to this approach. Most people are happy someone is taking the extra effort, but if they say something like "oh no, any way you pronounce ...


47

Don't. It is a minor thing, and one that our (American) culture is used to. Forty years ago everyone said "Mary and me went to the store", and faux-erudite people jumped on that bandwagon so hard that the current generation grew up being taught to say "Mary and I" whenever a compound subject is used. The reality is that language is flexible, and speakers ...


38

Here's what I would say: You speak [whatever language]? How lucky I am! I love learning new languages. Do you mind if we try speaking in [whatever language]? Would be great for me if I could practice. Helped me maaany times (and I guess that you really do love learning languages, so nothing bad is done there). I have been expatriated in Hungary for the ...


33

I was in your situation when I was in Erasmus in France. I used to hang out with this large group of Spanish people. They were all very nice, easy-going, open, and almost all of them spoke an excellent French and a high-level English. They liked the non-Spanish-speaking people a lot (that is, an English guy, a French one, an Italian and me, Italian as well), ...


30

Just be proud of the fact you're putting in the effort to try and improve your accent. If anything it'll be a great way for you to know when you've successfully gotten rid of your accent. Having been in the same situation as you in a country where no one spoke my mother-tongue. When anyone thought to laugh I let them. I sometimes do the same when I hear ...


28

There's no reason to correct the teacher, unless it is something you see often repeated. Everybody makes miskates. And in case you wish to correct this, do so as an aside to something else, subtly. I do not know what exactly you could write. Maybe you'll see a good suggestion from other answers. My English teacher used to misspell tomorrow as tommorow, when ...


28

Asking people not to use the word "queer" to describe you personally is a completely reasonable thing to do, but I would caution you about asking people not to use it when describing themselves. I understand that some people are uncomfortable with the word, many people have some really rough memories tied to the word being used as a slur against them, and ...


26

Yeah, and, by the way, not sure why but I don't really like the term "queer". Probably it's just me, or maybe I personally disagree to a certain extent, anyway... mind if you skip that word? The "Yeah, and, by the way" part lets you enter the conversation by following the flow without making it sound like an interruption/counter-argument. This, already, ...


22

Let me start this by stating that I'm Dutch, fairly straight-forward and very disagreeable, in the sense of the Big 5 personality test. I think it is respectful to reply to them with a request for clarification, perhaps adding one or two rough/uncertain interpretations. I would say something like this: Ok, I'm not sure I understand your message right, do ...


21

I just want to raise a perspective that wasn't necessarily brought up by Edlothiad. For many of these kids, hearing someone with an accent in their language is very different. They may be looking at the pronunciation of your words, your grammar and so on. They're not doing it to be mean, it's because they genuinely think that it's funny. Behaviours like ...


19

I don't believe there is a way to correct him without a serious risk of causing embarrassment and/or offense. Grammatical and spelling errors are unfortunately quite common, particularly in email, which is generally treated as a less formal form of communication. Unless the teacher is specifically an English teacher (in which case pointing out errors in ...


19

This answer is more a frame challenge, since I focus more on talking German instead of get them to talk in English. While this is not what you ask, it will result in two things you want: your German improves and you are able to talk with your coworkers. First of all I would avoid French, this is because I get from your description that they can talk English ...


18

If you're willing to, show interest in their culture. I faced this a few times. At 1st lunch/dinner time opportunity, I usually "share and compare": I show a vegetable, and say the word in my language. Then, in their language, with an interrogative tone in my voice. The person will be glad to say it with the proper accent, and won't feel rude because you ...


17

There is always just saying the word in the language you know, and coupling it with other cues such as gesturing. But don't make the thread of the conversation pause for too long. There will be the inevitable pause as you get to the word you don't know. Once you are there, people will surmise that you are looking for a word. In this case, say the word in ...


16

I'm not sure but, based on what you've said, I might recommend slightly different phrasing. I talk in a slight dialect (Norddeutsch), speak very fast and often kind of unclear. Even other Germans occasionally have a hard time understanding me. While this makes sense as a reason for you to not want to talk in German with non-native speakers, people with low ...


16

I'll challenge the phrase "semantic noise" a little bit. It makes me think of fluffy language, extra words thrown in that add little (if any) additional information (somewhat related note: grandiloquent was my favorite English word for a long time). That doesn't sound like your problem here. What you are describing is specific terms not being understood by ...


15

One way may be to make your calling attention to the correction a little subtle, and not directed at them. You can take note of which word you want to correct, and then use it yourself correctly in a natural way. If you use the word yourself, one would hope that the listener will hear what you say, and realize that their usage was off. Now you can leave up ...


14

This is a tricky question, and one I deal with every day. Cussing is in every second sentence with most of the people I work with currently, and for the rest, it's in every sentence. Here are several things I have found that can help. 1. Request (politely) that they cut out some of the cuss words. I usually go something along the lines of: Say, for ...


14

Gesturing and paraphrasing, as suggested here, are good approaches. (In your case you probably know the words for "up", "down", and "move", which should help you get your point across.) Another technique is one I've seen my non-native-English-speaking coworkers use. When one of them is speaking and gets stuck, he pauses, holds up a finger (the "wait a ...


14

You can try to: Listen to their explanation in German Rephrase it in English "Tell me if I got it correctly, so you're saying that..." If they ask why you do this, you can give the following reasons, which are all true: You want to practice the language. If your English rephrasing is wrong, and you misunderstood what they said, you'd expect them to ...


12

Kids laugh at almost anything they find unusual. Your accent is just that. Unusual. Perhaps like the others said, it'll be an indication for you that you've improved your accent when they stop laughing. Take it as a positive thing. It's not like they're bullying you for this. I've seen people laugh at Indians' accents when they speak English. But it's not ...


12

When I worked with patients in a hospital I encountered this situation nearly every day. My scripted lead-in to this became: Hello, [Mr./Ms.]… I'm sorry, I'm sure I'm going to get this wrong, [best effort at pronouncing the name]? This always prompted the person I was speaking with to approve of my pronunciation, right or wrong ("Yes, that's right!" or "...


11

From your OP I understand it, that there is no interaction in between that group and you, nor there is anymore than assumptions of why they decide to speak that language. Given that, I'd rather provide you a frame challenge on this one. You shouldn't. I can't provide any citation on that, but I can give you a handful of examples what to keep in mind, when ...


10

I have been in that exact situation years ago. 38 different nationalities at the same time, at least 30 different languages. Rooms of 2 or 4. Shared dining-room and break room. English was the official language, with customers and between employees. While at work, no problem. How did we manage to talk/share outside of work? Well, actually, I (we) found out ...


9

Great question WatermelonLemon, especially considering the cultural difference present in this question. I am a ethnic Chinese who grew up in the USA. Let me help you shed some light on this. I make an assumption here, please don't get mad at me non-shy Chinese friends. Stereotypes do exist, Chinese are generally shy, especially traditionally Chinese women. ...


8

There is nothing wrong with being interested in various local dialects & accents. It can be fun to learn them & use it for impersonation, etc, but I do not think most people take to it kindly outside of acting or just learning it in good fun. My grandfather & grandmother had strong accents, to the point of speaking broken English. When people ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible