What if English you know is not English everybody knows?

Although I spoke English at school, no one understood me. Why? You would not believe that they said I spoke funny.

Kaye Terrelonge
Kaye Terrelonge
Book lesson

You may already know that learning phrasal verbs, expressions, and idiomatic references is often extremely helpful when conversing in informal English with others, not just in America, but also in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

It is only natural for foreigners to feel confused, or as the idiom saying goes, a fish out of water, when misunderstood or not knowing the meaning or appropriate usage based on the situation and/or circumstance.

As a migrant myself, I understand the concerns you have. I was born in Jamaica, West Indies, a country where the official language is English, and my parents, like other foreigners, moved to the US for better opportunities and relocated to Bronx, New York, where I grew up. Although I spoke English at school, no one understood me. Why? You would not believe that they said I spoke funny.

Of course, this proved to be frustrating. It was later learned that I wasn’t speaking *American* English. With ESL unheard in my neighborhood, there wasn't any guidance or tutor directing me as to what I must do in order to speak “American” English.

Tips on how to improve your English: listen, read, write and speak

With a passion toward music and books, I started listening attentively to the lyrics and repeated the phrases as well as read comic books and short stories, then integrated both the phrases and new vocabulary with my daily speaking.  Next, I started watching TV series and televised movies, and conducted the same practice: Phrases were spoken which reflected the moment.

It is quite similar to how foreigners learn English today, however, as a tutor, I noticed that some students’ hesitation of speaking because of, probably not being certain, if the utterance was appropriate or not. I too faced the same situation which resulted in odd stares. Passively observe the situation when the phrase was spoken. When witnessed in action while listening to the speaker, the meaning will become more apparent.

Furthermore, reading a passage in English aloud, rather than mentally, helps improve listening skills and strengthen articular muscles. You don't need to worry if the pronunciation is incorrect; the more you practice, the better you'll sound and recognize when conversing with others.

Writing short stories and attending linguistic courses at the university contributed more to my understanding of American English, but it became evident that the process was ever-evolving with every passing generation, changes and additions gave in to the newest trends.

Memorizing or studying these forms of communication is not the way to remember because by next year the concept will have a new meaning. Rather, engage in conversation with a diverse range of individuals and truly take the time in listening to each of the speakers as they exchange or share information as well as take note of their reactions. Also, do not feel intimidated, keep in mind those engaged in the conversation are just as nervous as you are.

By teaching this unusual form of informal English, I hope to make you aware of when to use or speak during your conversation and understand when listening to someone else speak. Consider the process as an art form from a child’s perspective, in other words, if you make mistakes, you make mistakes... embrace them because that is how we learn.

Schedule your lesson and during our introduction, as we learn about each other's interests, occupation, and daily lives, I provide examples from your personal or professional experiences, which provides a greater understanding of what the other is trying to communicate. Remembering phrasal verbs best comes from applying in everyday life.

I look toward hearing from you.

EnglishLanguage Learning

Kaye Terrelonge

My name is Kaye. I'm an experienced teacher. I place great importance on my students understanding their challenges and applying what they have learned confidently. Hope to see you soon in my class.

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Cecilia Gigliotti

I have extensive experience writing in a variety of genres, from literary novels to music reviews to academic articles. I appreciate the power of words.

Geoffrey Mutie

My name is Geoffrey! I am constantly looking for new ways to improve my writing skills and my interpersonal skills, which in my opinion help a person be professional.

Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.