Being a native English speaker, those who don't use English as their mother tongue often ask me questions such as, "How do you say that? What does that mean? Did I say that right? What is the word for...?" Since English is my first language I have automatically become an English teacher to aid those who are trying their best to learn all that they can so that they can understand and speak the language better. (Although, sometimes I jokingly say, "Don't ask me - I'm American!" --- That's usually my way of admitting that I don't know the answer. Sometimes that answer even works if it ends up being British English that they are referring to. In this case, this is also helps me learn my British English words and phrases.)
Dinner time is often a time of laughter. Why? This is usually when our funny language lessons take place. We will talk about our cultures, homes, foods, our cultures. This would include things like the other night when we taught each other what different sounds animals make in different countries. For example, Americans say a cow will "moo". In Korea they say that the cows "Maa".
One day I realized that my Korean friends often used the word "cute". Actually, it wasn't often. It was more than often - it was a very frequent! Everyday they say things like, "You're voice is so cute! You're so cute!" Jolly Ranchers and the noodles for American Craft Mac and Cheese? Yeah, they're cute too.
Noticing they used the word cute a lot (aka: for everything), I decided to teach them a new word so they would have more options in their word choice. To go along with cute, I taught them the word "adorable".
The other morning I was really sick and I slept a lot. At one point, though, when waking up I saw two of the Korean girls standing over my bedside looking at me saying multiple times, "She's so cute...so adorable!" (At least I know I still look good when I feel my worst??) I'm starting to think it's time to teach them a third option for more variety.
For the last two weeks (at least) everyday, at least once (if not twice), I am still told, "Your voice is SO cute...SO adorable!" After leaving here any girl should have wonderful self esteem and confidence. ;-)
I really enjoy helping them with their English. Not only are they learning, but I am as well. When they ask me, "What does that mean?" sometimes I realize, "You know, I've never actually thought about the meaning and why we say that word or phrase..." This has helped me come to realize that in America, we use some really odd phrases for some things in life! I've also come to realize how many American idioms and slang I sometimes use. My British English vocabulary is also expanding.
It's also remarkable to see how hard they are working to learn to speak another language. I know they have their days of frustration and discouragement, but they leave me impressed everyday. Here they are, from different countries and languages, speaking a foreign language (my language) all day, seven days a week. They work so hard. I cannot even imagine how exhausting that would be to listen and to speak an unfamiliar language all day, everyday, translating everything in their mind to process what is being said.
What American/English phrases do you recommend we teach our international friends?
The Travelin' Chick,
PS: Another phrase we have tried to work on is with the word "deserve". One girl was telling someone, "You deserve to be my roommate." We understood what she meant but had to help her find a better English way of phrasing her feelings about her excitement of being roommates together. Now that is a joke in our flat. "You deserve to be my partner", or, "you deserve to be my friend."