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It’s hard out here to be a near-native speaker

发表于: 2006-04-09 13:36 4332人阅读 10人回复 只看楼主 | 倒序阅读 | 精简版

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It’s hard out here to be a near-native speaker (1)

1. Dream to reach native speaker level

Speaking English like a native speaker is every English learner’s dream. I was certainly no exception. With opportunity to take a class with a native speaker as the instructor, and later on living in the United States, I thought I had a very good chance to reach that dream. After all, most of the Chinese newscasters in CCTV 9 surely talk like native speakers. With enthusiasm and naivete, I worked hard towards that dream.

At first, I thought I was close. After all, all my American friends praised how fast my English progressed. However, the cruel reality set in when the other end of the telephone line asked “which country are you from?” This happened so often that my dream was dashed. Once in a while, one of those gentle souls would follow up with comments like “Really? You are from China? I wouldn’t be able to tell that you are from a foreign country if you didn't tell me.” Yeah right, like he expected United States to be one of the answers to his question. I had to accept the reality of being a non-native speaker for the rest of my life.

(to be continued)

[ 本帖最后由 lateblue 于 2006-4-9 13:44 编辑 ]
The wise man learns more from the fool than the fool learns from the wise man. -- Marcus Aurelius
主楼 2006-04-09 13:36
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2. In pursuit of near-native level

Later on, I learned that one can be a “near-native speaker.” In the aftermath of my failure to reach the native speaker level, I was so excited about this concept. I immediately set out to find out what this new goal would entail. It appears that one needs courage, pride, an open-mind, humility, knowledge, and creativity in order to reach near-native level. These seemed to be well within my reach. I did the following self-analysis.
Courage. While I never had any opportunity to save any beautiful lady from bad guys, I would never shy away from a fight when I was a child. That should be enough courage.
Pride. I was proud of my professional achievement.
Open-mindedness. After traveling and living in a number of different countries, I thought I should be sufficiently open-minded.
Humility. I was never a flamboyant person. I should be OK on this point.
Knowledge. With a graduate degree, I should be able to pass that test.
Creativity. My friends seem to tell me that I was very creative.
I thought I should have no problem with any of these requirements. With confidence, I started working to become a near-native speaker of English. My life is full of meaning again!

(to be continued)
The wise man learns more from the fool than the fool learns from the wise man. -- Marcus Aurelius
沙发 2006-04-09 13:37
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3. Failing to reach near-native level

Before long, I ran into problem again. I found that the personal qualities needed to become a near-native speaker are far beyond what I originally anticipated. The following are my findings.
Courage and pride. To become a near-native speaker, I had to have the courage to mock a whole nation of English speakers. I also had to be so proud as to claim to be the best all the time. That’s awesome, but that seems to be beyond my level of courage of pride.
Open-mindedness and humility. To become a near-native speaker, I had to be open-minded enough to frequent a certain sex-blog. Married with children, this was really difficult to do for me if I did not want to get a divorce. Furthermore, I was supposed to frequently write dumb letters to that sex-blog and be humiliated by a certain Allison Chan in her reply. That kind of humility seems to be beyond me.
Knowledge and Creativity. To become a near-native speaker, I had to be so knowledgeable and creative that I could come up with a phrase like “near-native level of command of a language.” Notice, the phrase uses French grammar. My rudimentary French knowledge is certain not sufficient. The creativity lies in the fact that it is a blunder but it does not contain any grammatical error. This kind of creativity is again beyond me.

Realizing this to be another hopeless endeavor, I shook my head and again resigned to be a non-native speaker of English for the rest of my life.

(to be continued)
The wise man learns more from the fool than the fool learns from the wise man. -- Marcus Aurelius
2楼 2006-04-09 13:38
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4. Epilog

Trained with a technical background, I am not quite used to write a fiction like this. At the end, I resigned to using a little bit of technical style of writing here by providing some references. For further viewthreading on the qualities needed to reach the near-native level, the viewthreaders are referred to the hyperlinks below. I am sure that there are viewthreaders out there who possess these qualities to be worthwhile to pursue the near-native level.

Courage and pride
http://www.beihai365.com/bbs/viewthviewthread.php?tid=272832&extra=page%3D2
Open-mindedness and humility
http://www.beihai365.com/bbs/viewthviewthread.php?tid=277837&extra=page%3D2
Knowledge and Creativity
http://www.beihai365.com/bbs/viewthviewthread.php?tid=279127&extra=page%3D2
The wise man learns more from the fool than the fool learns from the wise man. -- Marcus Aurelius
3楼 2006-04-09 13:39
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Here is a list of my blunders, but not grammatical errors in my posts above:
1. Message 1, near the end, "one of the answers" should be "one of the possible answers"
2. In various places, "near-native leve" should be "the near-native level"
3. Message 3, near the beginning, "are my findings" should be "were my findings"
4. Message 3, at the end of the "courage and pride" paragraph, "courage of pride" should be "courage and pride"
5. Message 4, "used to write" should be "used to writing"
The wise man learns more from the fool than the fool learns from the wise man. -- Marcus Aurelius
4楼 2006-04-10 01:27
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near-native??? I have to say I didn't pay any attention to it till I viewthread your novel. it is of great fun!

One of my foreign teachers had told me that language is a tool of communication, so try to use most simple
words to express your ideas. This became my slogan from that moment till now.
I viewthread a lot but keep very little in my mind, since I can't recall any famous sentences. and my vocabulary of
"high- level words" is very limited...

When I started working for my current boss, a white man, I found a new world of using English,
say, I'm trying to be creative, especially in using nouns as verbs...

But I never think of making my English as good as native speakers or so called "near-native".
I can make others understand what I'm talking about, that's enough.

eh, I remember a leader of a southeast country had said we shouldn't deem British or American
or Australian English as "native", since in his country, English is widely accepted and used for decades,
then their English also should be regarded as native language This happened in that famous financial crisis.

[ 本帖最后由 ocherry16 于 2006-4-10 08:40 编辑 ]
a new career, a new life
5楼 2006-04-10 08:38
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I don't know why I can't answer this thviewthread last night, but it's not late to do it this morning
a new career, a new life
6楼 2006-04-10 08:39
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原帖由 ocherry16 于 2006-4-10 08:38 发表
we shouldn't deem British or American or Australian English as "native", since in his country, English is widely accepted and used for decades, then their English also should be regarded as native language.


This may not be too far-fetched. The former Soviet Union did not have a relationship with the West, but was friendly with Indian. Therefore, they send their people to India to learn English. As the result, Russians during Soviet era spoke English like Indians.

On the other hand, there are a lot of neat ways English expresses things that do not have a Chinese counterpart. There are also a lot of subtlties that are not easy to appreciate without substantial exposure to an English environment. Having an accent has an advantage. Native speakers would not take offense as easily even if you said something which might have a little offensive connotation. Also, if two parties are in a heated argument, and they want you to be the judge, you can pretend not to understand what they are saying, and escape from a difficult situation.
The wise man learns more from the fool than the fool learns from the wise man. -- Marcus Aurelius
7楼 2006-04-10 09:08
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lateblue,

I heard USSR radio broardcasting in English years before, in college. They speak good English with a little accent. But Hindu English is really terrible. I had met a Hindu customer before and found I can't understand his English also I know clearly he did speak in that language! It took me one week to get used to Australian accent when I visited Australia at the first time, but with that Hindu businessman, usually we talk by writing, I speak, he wrote...... So I'm really surprised when you told us Russian learns English from India.

I can't agree more with your opinion on the other hand. It's true, that being a non-native speaker of a language, one is easily to get understanding from native speakers toward some language mistakes. Just like you described in the novel, at the first several weeks I stayed in Australia, I also found someone surprised when they got a negative answer of asking me "r u student in Australia?"
a new career, a new life
8楼 2006-04-10 11:00
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ocherry,

Of course, not all the Russians learn English from India. You would hear very little accent from English radios of most countries. I remember the only exception I noticed was English radio from Japan.

While most of us from China find it difficult to understand Indian English, most Americans understand Indian English better than the English by Chinese. While most Indians speak with very heavy accent, their grammar and sentence structure are very good. Recently, some companies train Indians to speak in British or American accent to serve US or other customers. I really cannot tell the difference between American and Indian when I talk to them over the phone.
The wise man learns more from the fool than the fool learns from the wise man. -- Marcus Aurelius
9楼 2006-04-10 21:45
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for decate,  i think the louzhu,now what about him.
10楼 2018-05-17 10:37
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