I am so happy that I was born in a country that speaks English because I can’t even imagine how hard it is to learn it as a second language. I’ve been speaking it my whole life and it’s still hard for me. For instance, I couldn’t say the last “g” in words like “sing” until my third teacher helped me with it. Pronunciation, spelling, weird expressions, dialects… It can be a little overwhelming for my students. And I try my best to explain it, but sometimes I don’t even know why we talk the way we do.
If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance that your a native English speaker. If you are, then you have what linguists call “native speaker intuitions” about English. I like to compare it to English speakers being an answer key to a test. You know 100%, without a doubt what the right answer is, but if I asked you how you came to that answer, you probably couldn’t explain it. Here, I’ll give you an example and you’ll see what I’m talking about. The other day, one of my students asked me what the difference is between the words “to meet” and “to see”. Before you continue reading, take a second (or a minute) to think to yourself what the difference is.
Ready? Okay well now that you think that you know the answer, I’ll give you a couple of example sentences that might make you change your answer.
“You’ll never believe who I saw at the store the other day. Martha!”
“I met this funny man at the store today. His head looked like a clown, big red nose and everything, you know? But from the neck down he was dressed in a plain, black business suit. Said his name was Ed.”
How’s the hypothesis holding up? If you’re like me, then you’re probably thinking that it has to do something with talking to someone for the first time. Okay, well how about this?
A: “Hey, wanna go to the mall with me tomorrow?”
B: “Yeah, sounds like fun!”
A: “Awesome! How about we meet in front of the school tomorrow at 2?”
B: “Alright, see you then!”
Yeah, it just got harder, didn’t it? Because it would have been weird if Person A had said, “How about we see each other in front of the school tomorrow at 2?” And it’s equally as weird if Person B had responded with “Alright, meet you then!” Or, at least based on my intuitions it’s weird. If you feel like you’ve figured it out, leave a comment below and tell me what you think.
So yeah that’s what teaching English is like. It may seem frustrating and impossible, but I love it. Watching my students grow is so rewarding and I get so proud of them. And I’m so happy that I can do this internship.