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"The April rain, the April rain,
Comes slanting down in fitful showers,
Then from the furrow shoots the grain,
And banks are fledged with nestling flowers;
And in grey shawl and woodland bowers
The cuckoo through the April rain
Calls once again."

Mathilde Blind, April Rain
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Intercourse of mother-tongue speakers with others in internet discussions, or on the street.

It's a day-to-day experience for me in the internet and on the streets here in Germany. People are tough. People are rough when they encounter non-natives with broken and stammering language abilities. This is not only hatred of foreigners, it's deeper. It's our sense of control over language as a sign of intelligence. If someone is not capable to speak smoothly and articulated, we mistake someone for being more or less stupid. And, to be honest, it's exhausting to listening to bad language over a long period. BUT!: On the street, and particularly in the internet (not here, in the wild outside) I often experienced rough behaviour against non native speakers. In internet-discussions, as on Twitter, Facebook, or IRC(where I'm for years now) people tend to be assertive, bossy. They try to use every gap in ones self-confidence to break you argumentation and win the fight. Not to mention internet-trolls, whose only purpose in life seems to be hurting people. Hence I was looking for a place where I can get practice in English without being assaulted for flaws. This I found in this Forum. Internet is for tough people, particularly if it comes to politics, religion, sports. Did you made the same experience in the internet and on the streets abroad? How do you handle such situations? Do you know chat rooms, forums or other places in the internet where not so sophisticated English skills are accepted? How could we teach people to think about the fact, that maybe some day they are the beginners in a new language and they will sound stammering? What ideas do you have?

Comments

  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,085 mod
    @MatthiasAndernach I don't usually read the comments that I see about news stories or other things or the internet. Like you say, people sometimes seem to lose all sense of propriety and lash out in a way I am sure they would never dream of doing if the interchange was face to face.

    You won't find anyone like this here I hope! English is for communicating and you must not get hung up about mistakes. Native speakers make them all the time.

    I don't know of any chat rooms or forums like this one - except I suppose Facebook when you are usually just commenting on things with friends (I don't count the news feeds that can have 'public' strangers commenting on things).
  • MatthiasAndernachMatthiasAndernach Posts: 89 ✭✭
    @mheredge This happens not only on the internet. I encounter it also on the streets. Strangers get into a bus, and try to ask in broken German a question, and the bus drivers are somewhat like the trolls of the Germans streets. They mock up the strangers with immitating them. Not all but some. Ok, sometimes it has to do with skin colour or a headscarf, but not everytime. I talk about this topic because this frightens me. Thinking about, what would happen if I had to live abroad someday. Hope this never will happen. The second thought, maybe is a little vain. It's the thought to sound dumber than one is, while trying to express oneself in a foreign language. I would like to know, if you fear this situation as I do.
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,085 mod
    Really @MatthiasAndernach? I never experienced this when I visited Germany earlier this year (I don't speak German but understand the odd few words). There was only one crabby old shopkeeper who seemed a bit unfriendly when I asked if he understood English (I never like to assume this). Everywhere I went - Berlin, Dresden and Leipzig - people were very friendly and helpful. I have never encountered any of the reactions you mention anywhere either.
  • MatthiasAndernachMatthiasAndernach Posts: 89 ✭✭
    @mheredge Maybe you will have a better stand if you're white, and wearing western style clothes. And Berlin is a international big city .....
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,085 mod
    And being a woman often helps too @MatthiasAndernach.

    I was a little on edge in Dresden as this city has a very bad reputation. I was interested by the Syrian piece of art, The Three Buses on display in the main square. It was very controversial as the local people didn't want it and it had been quite a fight to get have it showing there for a limited time. I have heard that the art piece has now gone to Berlin where it will stay.
  • MatthiasAndernachMatthiasAndernach Posts: 89 ✭✭
    @mheredge Yes, it did. And as far as I know there were much more less problems with the Berliners about this piece of art. Yes, Dresden is hardcore right-wing, at least this it what you get from of the news. I've never been to Dresden or Saxony by myself. The farthest east I've been, was Rostock and Zwickau.
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,085 mod
    The South of France is fairly hardcore Le Penn and racist but you rarely see it unless you go out of your way to talk about politics. These days I tend to find it much safer to steer clear of the subject, especially with all the nonsense about Brexit @MatthiasAndernach. I'm usually safe with young Brits travelling though and have not been too surprised at the number I have met who are leaving the UK to settle in European countries.
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