Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Exchanging Languages

So one thing that happens fairly regularly is that a Taiwanese person who speaks English wants to practice their English. It's usually a pretty awkward thing because they're usually very nervous, and sometimes they have a canned thing they've memorized; also, I'm usually in the middle of something or going somewhere and am not really in conversation mode.

I try to be polite, and if I'm on the train or something I don't mind talking for a few minutes, but I don't want to talk for hours, you know?

People will also ask for a tutor, or to do a language exchange. I fell for this when I first came, but it's never proven to be anything but a waste of time for me. Usually the other party loses interest after a few weeks, or they are disappointed that they're not suddenly speaking fluent English. It's weird because back home I did a language exchange with a Taiwanese couple, before I came here, and it helped me so much.

Then there's just the random speaking of English. A lot of people know how to say "Hello, how are you?" and that's all. And it's so funny when they say it to me, right?

Or like tonight, I went to Carrefour, and this guy who worked at a cell phone kiosk comes up to me and asks if I can speak English. Yes, I said. "Where are you going?" he asked. "To Carrefour," I said. "Oh," he said. "I think foreign women are very beautiful." "OK," I said, and I was on the escalator by that time. He seemed a little confused about what to do next, but he had to go back to work. He looked non-crazy, wearing a tie and looked pretty together. I don't know if his English wasn't sufficient to express his ideas, or if he just got tongue-tied. Or what the heck idea he was trying to express.

1 comment:

Tom Kuo said...

Ha ha, that guy was really funny. Many Taiwanese really like trying to speak English to foreigners. I think most of them don't have any bad purposes. ^.^