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Why Americans Are Not Correcting Your English?
Lindsay: This is an All Ears English Podcast, Episode 68, Wisdom Wednesday: “Why Americans Are Not Correcting Your English.”
Gabby: Welcome to the All Ears English Podcast, where you’ll finally get real, native English conversation. Now here are your hosts, Lindsay McMahon, the ‘English Adventurer’ and Gabby Wallace, the ‘Language Angel,’ coming to you from Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
In today’s episode, you’ll get one aspect of American culture explained for you, “Why Americans Don’t Correct You.”[Instrumental]
Gabby: Hey Lindsay. What’s up?
Lindsay: Hey Gabby. I am excited about today’s episode, because I feel like we’re gonna (going to) answer the question that a lot of English students in the US and abroad have, are wonderingGabby: Yeah. Why don’t Americans correct my English?
Lindsay: I know, because in some parts of the world, in some cultures, it’s considered a way of building a relationship, to actually go ahead and correct someone, but not here. I was just thinking of this, this show called “How I Met Your Mother.” Have you ever seen that?
Gabby: Yeah. It’s pretty popular. Yeah.
Lindsay: It’s pretty popular. It’s a – kind of similar to “Friends.” All these friends, a group of friends, Barney, Ted, Lily – they’re, they’re living in New York together, hanging out all the time and in one episode, they talk about the things that are annoying about each one of them. And the thing that’s annoying about Ted is that he corrects everyone, (you know).
Gabby: So people don’t like when he corrects them?
Lindsay: No, they don’t like that. So when they make a grammar mistake – they’re all native speakers, (um), but he sometimes will make a correction when they make a grammar mistake because we do do that as native speakers.
Lindsay: Or, for example, at one point, someone misused the term ‘literally’…Gabby: Oh.
Lindsay: …and he corrected them.
Lindsay: (Um), so in general, what’s the problem here? You guys are coming to the US, you’re expecting to be corrected when you make a mistake, but it’s not going to work.
Lindsay: Americans are not going to correct you. They don’t want to embarrass you.
Gabby: Right. Like in, in a normal, everyday situation, if you’re not in a languageclass or you’re not working with a tutor, who you already have an agreement with, (you know), they’re supposed to help you with your language, if you’re in a regular situation, people should not be correcting you because that’s not something that’s really acceptable in our culture.
Lindsay: Yeah. It could seem kind of passive aggressive.
Lindsay: It could seem hostile. It can seem confrontative (confrontational)Gabby: Yeah, exactly. So (um), (I mean) don’t feel bad if people are not correcting you, also don’t assume that your English is perfect if people are not correcting you.
Gabby: (Um), so the question now is how do you improve, right…
Gabby: …if no one’s going to correct you. Well, (I mean), I think we have some options right?
Lindsay: Yeah. So you need to go out, you need to find a language exchange as we’ve, we’ve talked about quite a bit.
Lindsay: Find a tutor, find a conversation program, (um), and, (you know), you can go out and practice, but again make sure that you’re in a situation most of the time where someone has agreed to correct you.
Lindsay: And ask them to.
Gabby; Yeah. And just like listening to a lot of English, like listening to this podcast, you can actually compare how you speak with the way that we speak, (you know), as native speakers.
Lindsay: (Um) and a way to do that could be to listen to the transcripts.
Lindsay: (You know) when you’re, when you’re listening to this podcast.
Gabby: Listen and, and read along at the same time.
Lindsay: Right. Read the transcripts.
Gabby: That helps a lot. Yeah.
Lindsay: Sure. Definitely. But just – that is the reason that American’s aren’t correcting you.
Lindsay: It goes back to culture…
Lindsay: …and that’s – I think that’s really interesting, but you just need to realize that. Maybe if you were studying a different language, I don’t know, and if you were in a different country, you would get corrected more often,…Gabby: Yeah.
Lindsay: Maybe for example in France. I feel like it’s more common to correct people in French culture. I could be wrong.
Gabby: Well, I think you’re right, but from the American perspective, people will think “Wow that’s so rude. Why did that French person correct me?” But the French person is just trying to be helpful.
Lindsay: Yeah. It’s so different, different, and here we’re saving face. Right?
Lindsay: It goes back to helping you not to be embarrassed and – so that’s what’s going on.
Lindsay: There you go.
Gabby: I know just personally as a teacher, (um), (you know) that, that is my job and it has been my job for a long time to help people with their grammar and their pronunciation…Lindsay: Yeah.
Gabby: …and vocabulary, and so when, when my friends …
Lindsay: Right. Do you do that?
Gabby: …make a mistake – no, no, no. I don’t.
Lindsay: Oh, yeah.
Gabby: I don’t correct them. I – but I, I fight the urge…
Gabby: …to correct them. I fight it. But I don’t do it because it is…Lindsay: No of course not. Yeah, sometimes I make the mistake when I’m not paying attention…Gabby: Oh sure.
Lindsay: …I’ll go and correct them and I’ll be (like) ‘What am I doing, I’m at a party right now with friends. I’m not with a student.’Gabby: Right. Oh, no.
Lindsay: Yeah, but no, you don’t, you don’t do that, so that’s, that’s just the way it is.
Lindsay: All right.
Lindsay: So thanks for listening in today guys and we’ll see you next time.
Gabby: See ya (you)!
Gabby: Thanks for listening to our podcast 35,000 times a day. You guys are listening like crazy. Now if you wanna (want to) just listen, that’s okay, but if you want to really improve your English, come get the transcripts. You can find them at allearsenglish.com/conversations. And it’s the perfect way to improve your English instantly and connect with Lindsay and myself to ask questions.
Lindsay: If you like to put your ears into English with Lindsay and Gabby, be sure to subscribe to the podcast audio in iTunes for free on your computer or on your Smartphone. Thanks for listening to the All Ears English Podcast. See you next time.
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