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Losing your English speaking ability?
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nawlinsgurl



Joined: 01 May 2004
Posts: 363
Location: Kanagawa and feeling Ok....

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 4:55 am    Post subject: Losing your English speaking ability? Reply with quote

I was talking on the phone to my Father recently and he corrected my English several times. I didn't even notice the grammatical mistakes I made while talking, but he did! This got me thinking--am I losing my grasp of the English lang. as my Japanese level increases? I'm teaching at a kindergarten now, where no one speaks English. I have to always dumb-down my English to get simple ideas across to the teachers. Also, I have very few expat friends living near me, but I do use English with native speakers daily. Has anyone else noticed that their English is gettng worse? Or am I just becoming crazy? Confused
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Yawarakaijin



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
Posts: 504
Location: Middle of Nagano

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_attrition

"Knowing is half the battle."

- G.I. Joe Wink
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furiousmilksheikali



Joined: 31 Jul 2006
Posts: 1660
Location: In a coffee shop, splitting a 30,000 yen tab with Sekiguchi.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This can certainly happen. I remember the first few times I went home to England I was told I spoke in a strangely New Zealand-tinged accent for some reason and I sometimes found it a little difficult to keep up with fast-paced conversations.

That said, it also improved as I found myself able to put things into clear and concise terms a lot quicker than I had before and I think this came from having to give instructions, definitions and explanations to students in the most efficient way possible.

I have noticed that my speech tends to be a little slower than before but I don't condiser that a bad thing. I tend to enunciate my words more than before as well but that too isn't too bad except for when I go into pubs in Yorkshire when I go back home.

There are a lot of teachers who do have serious problems with their English after a while and that often comes from them imitating their students' pattern of speech. They often start dropping articles, or using the singular when they should use the plural, mixing up object-pronouns with subject-pronouns largely because their students do and they think that this is the best way for their students to understand. This awful pidgin English is something they start to use on a regular basis which is bad for the teacher and bad for the students as the students often look to their teachers as models of good English.

It is sometimes a good idea to record a lesson and play it back just to hear what you say. If you find yourself saying "House very big, yes?" or other pidgin constructions then it would be fair to both yourself and your students to start seriously trying to change the way you speak in class.

Other things to look out for are unnatural vocabulary and constructions such as these:

"I have many friends."
"I have much money."
"The food was very delicious."
"The movie was very interesting and very fun."
"Did you eat dinner yet?"

Of course you can see what is wrong with each of the above sentences. If not then it may be too late.
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gaijin4life



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 150
Location: Westside of the Eastside, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

furiousmilksheikali wrote:
I remember the first few times I went home to England I was told I spoke in a strangely New Zealand-tinged accent for some reason

- You could be so lucky !!! Laughing

After my first year in Japan, I was asked by a friend from home where I had acquired that, `awful American accent..` ! Laughing

I attributed this to the following: I was working and socialising with people who spoke with an American-English accent and were thus used to this pronunciation and also I had many American friends at the time.

Also speaking British English influenced by Australian/New Zealand accent, I found it was helpful at times to pronounce some words in a more American way; or use the commonly used American word otherwise I would just get the, `Huh ?`all the time.
For example, `lift` was out - elevatorrr was in; `biscuit` was met with blank faces - cookie was in and I didnt go to see `films` we went to see `movies.`

Now, I see these differences as learning opportunities - `so let`s take the lift to see the film and don`t forget the biscuits !!!` Very Happy


Last edited by gaijin4life on Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:22 am; edited 1 time in total
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Yawarakaijin



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
Posts: 504
Location: Middle of Nagano

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know if it falls under the category of language attrition but I have surely undergone some weird kind of change since I have started teaching. Year after year of spending the entire day dumbing down your language for new language learners certainly takes it toll.

Sit #1 (with my best friend) " I like stores, shall we go to the place where we can buy some things?"

Sit#2 (to my sister) "Japan is nice. Japan is good. I make lots of money here."

Sit#3 (to a canadian girl back home in a bar) "Hi, I am James. You are pretty. Sex now?"

Wink

Since I started teaching/living in Japan I often find myself struggling to find a particular word in English. Never happened before. I find myself stuttering in English more often. In school I could get up before the entire class and make a speech without stumbling once. Anyone with similar experiences? Wink
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Quibby84



Joined: 10 Aug 2006
Posts: 643
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My English does seem to have gotten worse because if I spoke properly to my 5 year olds they would have no clue what I am talking about. I notice that I leave out conjunctions and just use verbs and nouns...it is bad!
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furiousmilksheikali



Joined: 31 Jul 2006
Posts: 1660
Location: In a coffee shop, splitting a 30,000 yen tab with Sekiguchi.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OP: Could you give some examples of things your father corrected you on?

Quibby: Yes, that is bad. The problem is that unconsciously they consider your English to be correct and when they finally start trying to talk to you they will speak the way you do to them (at least grammatically). You have to give your students time to get an ear for the way you talk to them and it should be done in full sentences with more stress on the content words (usually the nouns and the verbs and the pronouns).
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TK4Lakers



Joined: 06 Jan 2006
Posts: 159

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yawarakaijin wrote:
Since I started teaching/living in Japan I often find myself struggling to find a particular word in English. Never happened before. I find myself stuttering in English more often. In school I could get up before the entire class and make a speech without stumbling once. Anyone with similar experiences? Wink



I get this too! Isn't it freakin annoying? It can be the simplest, easiest word, yet sometimes I have the hardest time remembering it and it doesn't come out.
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king kakipi



Joined: 16 Feb 2004
Posts: 353
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even though I am back in Oz, and the wife and I usually use English not Japanese, I now nearly always use:-
"wa" instead of "is"
"tsugoi" instead of "great"
"chooooooooooooooo" instead of "very" and
"honto" instead of "really?"
Kinda bad, ne.............................. Wink
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Apsara



Joined: 20 Sep 2005
Posts: 2142
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once while back in New Zealand I was asked by the hairdresser where I was from. I was born and grew up in the city we were in, I told her. She thought I had a kind of "different" accent and I have been accused of sounding either British or Australian by other people. I don't know if I've lost vocab and grammar, but my accent must have changed.

Although I usually speak both English and Japanese about equally during the day, I can go several days or occasionally a week or more without speaking to another native English speaker and I sometimes wonder how this affects my use of language.
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furiousmilksheikali



Joined: 31 Jul 2006
Posts: 1660
Location: In a coffee shop, splitting a 30,000 yen tab with Sekiguchi.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

king kakipi wrote:
Even though I am back in Oz, and the wife and I usually use English not Japanese, I now nearly always use:-
"wa" instead of "is"
"tsugoi" instead of "great"
"chooooooooooooooo" instead of "very" and
"honto" instead of "really?"
Kinda bad, ne.............................. Wink


If you mean by "bad", "irritating" then yes. This depends on your audience of course. If it is just your wife then she may think it amusing or even quaint that you went to the trouble of learning six words of her language and use them as often as you can. I'm sure if you're at the pub with your mates then the story would be a little different.
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Apsara



Joined: 20 Sep 2005
Posts: 2142
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yeah, I was talking to my mother the other day on the phone and put "toka" at the end of a sentence. I don't often do that kind of thing but as I speak to my husband in a kind of Japanglish I suppose it's inevitable that that kind of thing gets ingrained- "We need tissues, soap, dishwashing liquid toka"...
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casual



Joined: 13 Oct 2003
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dont think I have lost my ability to speak English (although some might disagree!) but my accent has been watered down severely.
I frequently add ne to the end of my sentences when speaking to native English speakers which people back home find irritating.
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casual



Joined: 13 Oct 2003
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dont think I have lost my ability to speak English (although some might disagree!) but my accent has been watered down severely.
I frequently add ne to the end of my sentences when speaking to native English speakers which people back home find irritating.
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canuck



Joined: 11 May 2003
Posts: 1921
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like you like to repeat yourself too. Wink
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