learning anything new, a good place to start is to think to yourself, "What do I
already know?" What you already know about interacting in English,
your attitudes toward interacting with native speakers, feelings toward
socializing, and your approach to learning will affect how and what you
learn. Let's begin to examine this by sharing your thoughts on the
following questions. You can answer them all or answer only the ones
you feel you have a strong opinion on. Send me your thoughts and impressions by
Consider your answers to these questions and send them to me
- What do you think are the biggest differences in
conversations between English and your own language?
- What are some strange or interesting behaviors you've
seen native speakers of English use in conversation?
- Are you a person who likes to talk a lot or do you tend
to be quiet?
- Are you really interested in getting to know native
speakers? Do you have much experience doing this?
- Do you have any special abilities or personality traits
that make you good at conversation?
- Do you have any behaviors that prevent you from learning
as much as you can?
- What do you believe an important thing students must do
to learn conversation?
A few things to think about...
Your ability to participate in conversation has important consequences
in your social relationships and even other goals that are part of your
life. Through conversation you get to know people, build relationships,
and form and express opinions. It is important to realize that at the same
time, the people you talk to are interpreting and judging your behavior.
Read the thoughts below on cross-cultural communication and think, "What does
this mean to me..?"
1. Language is a social behavior.
can lead to misunderstanding.
- Understanding and interpreting cultural behavior is and
important part of interaction.
- What is appropriate to say and to whom varies
considerably from group to group and around the world.
- If you want to acquire the ability to interact
effectively in another language, you have to understand the rules a native
speaker uses when speaking.
3. These processes are unconscious.
- When people from different backgrounds interact, they
tend to judge each other's behavior by their own rules.
- Directly interpreting values and rules from your own
language may cause misunderstanding.
- Failure in this area can have serious consequences.
Grammatical errors are easily excused by native speakers, but these types of
errors may lead to judgments of your character.
- You (and native speakers) may not think about them unless
they are pointed out.
Find out more about the causes and solutions of problems in
cross-cultural communication in the
Six Fundamental Patterns
of cross-cultural Communication. After you've
read it, and if you think you're pretty smart, why don't you take a short quiz on the contents of the