Speaking English is not only about using proper grammar. To use English effectively, you need to understand the culture in which it is spoken. here are the number of important tips to remember when spoken English In the United States.
General Points to Remember
Most Americans only speak English: While it is true that more and more Americans speak Spanish, most Americans only speak English. Don’t expect them to understand your native language.
Americans have difficulties understanding foreign accents: Many Americans are not used to foreign accents. This requires patience from both of you!
Speak about location: Americans love to talk about location. When speaking to a stranger, ask them where they are from and then make a connection with that place. For example: “Oh, I have a friend who studied in Los Angeles. He says it’s a beautiful place to live.” Most Americans will then willingly talk about their experiences living or visiting that particular city or area.
Talk about work: Americans commonly ask “What do you do?”. It’s not considered impolite (as in some countries) and is a popular topic of discussion between strangers.
Talk about sports: Americans love sports! However, they love American sports. When speaking about football, most Americans understand “American Football”, not soccer.
Be careful when expressing ideas about race, religion or other sensitive topics: The United States is a multi-cultural society. Especially in the last few years, Americans are trying very hard to be sensitive to other cultures and ideas. Talking about sensitive topics like religion or beliefs, is often avoided in order to be sure not to offend someone of a different belief system. This is often referred to as being “politically correct”.
Impolite question: it is not common and impolite to ask question like “How much money do you make? How much does your car cost? Are you married?”
Hi and Hello: “Hi” is used between friends, “hello” is used between friends too but is more formal than “hi”.
Use last names with people you do not know: Address people using their title (Mr, Ms, Dr) and their last names.
Always use “Ms” when addressing women: It is important to use “Ms” when addressing a woman. Only use “Mrs.” when the woman has asked you to do so!
Many Americans prefer first names: Americans often prefer using first names, even when dealing with people in very different positions. Americans will generally say, “Call me Tom.” and then expect you to remain on a first name basis.
Americans prefer informal: In general, Americans prefer informal greetings and using first names or nicknames when speaking with colleagues and acquaintances.
Always shake hands: Americans shake hands when greeting each other. This is true for both men and women. Other forms of greeting such as kissing on the cheeks, etc., is generally not appreciated. People shake hands firmly and briefly. A limp handshaking is a sign in the American culture of a weak character.
Look your partner in the eye: Americans look each other in the eyes when they are speaking as a way of showing that they are sincere.
Don’t hold hands: Same sex friends do not usually hold hands or put their arms around each other in public in the United States.
Smoking is Out!!: Smoking, even in public places, is strongly disapproved of by most Americans in the modern United States.
Some Perceptions of Americans
Europe & especially England. “Americans are stupid and unsubtle. And they are fat and bad dressers.”
Finland. “Americans always want to say your name: ‘That’s a nice tie, Mikko. Hi Mikko, how are you Mikko’
Indian. “Americans are always in a hurry. Just watch the way they walk down the street.”
Kenyan. “Americans are distant. They are not really close to other people — even other Americans.”
Turkey. “Once we were out in a rural area in the middle of nowhere and saw an American come to a stop sign. Though he could see in both directions for miles, and there was no traffic, he still stopped!”
Colombia. “In the United States, they think that life is only work.”
Indonesia. “In the United States everything has to be talked about and analyzed. Even the littlest thing has to be ‘Why, why why?’.”
Ethiopia. “The American is very explicit. He wants a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If someone tries to speak figuratively, the American is confused.”
The following tips can be used at least to get you started on your way to speaking American English like an American!
1. slow down when you speak.
2. Listen attentively to the sounds of American English.
3. Choose one speech sound that is hard for you to pronounce. Write a list of words that have that sound, and read that list, slowly and carefully, so that your articulators — the parts of your mouth that need to learn where to go to make the sound–become used to this new pattern. Once you’re able to say these words easily, put them into short sentences, and then longer sentences.
4. When you hear a native American say a simple phrase that you’re not familiar with or that you’re aware of saying differently, see if you can immediately imitate what they said — using the same vocal inflection/tone of voice, and the exact words. Repeat it several times to yourself (and aloud if possible!) and become more comfortable with the phrase.
5. Turn on the news and listen to the news commentator’s voice.
6. Remember…learning to speak English well takes commitment and practice. Be patient, and you’ll find that your efforts pay off!