Before I came to the United States, I (Natasha) knew English pretty well, or at least I though so. I went to specialized English school for several years and was able to express myself very well. Nevertheless, when I came to the United States, I had a hard time adapting to American English and understanding it. Now imagine how hard it might be for women who barely know English. Surely, they will learn English in time, but you can help this process to go smoother for them.
My biggest problem with American English was the pronunciation. I learned British English at school (or, classical English, as they told us) and you know how different pronunciation might be. I know that some native speakers of English language have a hard time understanding each other sometimes. American can’t understand British; New Yorker can’t understand someone from Texas. I am not saying that it happens often, but it happens.
Americans, from my observation, are often not very careful with the way they speak. They swallow syllables, or even words (“I wanna”, “I gonna” or “samwich” ). Trust me, this is very confusing. When you speak to a Russian bride or a Russian wife, try to speak clearly. No need to talk to her like she is 2-years old: ‘D-o y-o-u w-a-nnn-tt a D-R—I–N-K”, but take extra effort to speak well. At least when she is still learning. It will help both of you. She will learn faster and will be able to communicate with you better.
Other big problem is grammar. I spent long hours trying to memorize 16 forms of verbs and how to use them correctly. I learned very well that “I” and “will” never go together. I also learned that if you say “if”, you never say “will” after it… The list goes on. I have been in this country for 6 years now and I still get all uptight when I hear “improper” (from what they taught us) grammar. Surely, American English is much simpler than British, but it is not easy to relearn. It is probably easier for women who didn’t know much English prior to meeting you and coming to the U.S.
Try to speak correctly. I understand that “I will” is not a mistake anymore, but there are other things you may want to watch. No need to learn all modal verbs and speak with a British accent. Just try to speak correctly. Even my husband who was English minor in college and whose English is really good, makes mistakes sometimes. I don’t know if he gets lazy or it is some sort of slang, but this is very confusing to me.
Another thing to watch is slang and idioms. If you say that you need some “dough” to come visit her in Russia, or to go Christmas shopping, she will be quite confused. I know how hard it might be for you to detect which words are actually slang, because you’ve been using them for so long. Many don’t realize that words and phrases like “shot down”, screw up”, “neat” are slang in the way we use them. No pressure. Just be careful and tell you Russian date or Russian bride to feel free to stop you anytime she doesn’t understand something. Make your lives easier and get her an American slang dictionary and a book with idioms.
Of course, it never hurts to learn some Russian too. I am sure she will be happy to help you.
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