How much do you guys correct your girlfriend's English?

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TeachingForPeanuts
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How much do you guys correct your girlfriend's English?

Post by TeachingForPeanuts » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:05 am

My girlfriend and I are thinking of moving back to my home country in 2021, where she will have to speak English all the time. In preparation for this, I've started correcting her English more when she makes mistakes, and she responds poorly to this and shuts down and more or less stops speaking so that I can't correct her.

I've offered to put her back in English classes but she is resistant to that. She thinks she can learn English just by watching English language movies and English lesson youtube videos, but she won't set aside a specific time every day to do this, and I think she ends up watching like 15 minutes of lessons every other day.

She can understand basic conversational English and can answer questions with correct sentence fragments, which would make someone think her English is more fluent than it is. but when I then ask her to answer in a full sentence, she will usually make some kind of grammatical error. For example, when using a noun in English, we always have to choose between using a, the, or no article, and she gets it wrong roughly 2/3 of the time. Will people understand what she means? Yes. Should I correct her every time she makes a mistake using articles? I don't know.

I don't want my relationship with my girlfriend to be like a teacher-student or parent-child relationship, but I don't know what else I should do here.
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IraHayes
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Re: How much do you guys correct your girlfriend's English?

Post by IraHayes » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:17 am

TeachingForPeanuts wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:05 am
My girlfriend and I are thinking of moving back to my home country in 2021, where she will have to speak English all the time. In preparation for this, I've started correcting her English more when she makes mistakes, and she responds poorly to this and shuts down and more or less stops speaking so that I can't correct her.

I've offered to put her back in English classes but she is resistant to that. She thinks she can learn English just by watching English language movies and English lesson youtube videos, but she won't set aside a specific time every day to do this, and I think she ends up watching like 15 minutes of lessons every other day.

She can understand basic conversational English and can answer questions with correct sentence fragments, which would make someone think her English is more fluent than it is. but when I then ask her to answer in a full sentence, she will usually make some kind of grammatical error. For example, when using a noun in English, we always have to choose between using a, the, or no article, and she gets it wrong roughly 2/3 of the time. Will people understand what she means? Yes. Should I correct her every time she makes a mistake using articles? I don't know.

I don't want my relationship with my girlfriend to be like a teacher-student or parent-child relationship, but I don't know what else I should do here.
There is some interesting therapy research that has to do with ego states. Theramin Trees on youtube has some very informative videos on what these are and how they dictate our relationships with others.
There are 3 basic states. (P)arent (A)dult (C)hild and you appear to already be well into a P-C relationship with your girlfriend. One of the main indicators of a P state is controlling behaviour. You are pushing for her to 'learn' english as, like any parent, you know best. Her response is a refusal to partake in the discussion so she shuts down and won't talk. A pretty classic child ego state.

More on this here....
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IraHayes
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Re: How much do you guys correct your girlfriend's English?

Post by IraHayes » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:20 am

I would just like to add, for clarity, that my wife constantly berates me for not having a much better knowledge of the Khmer language after living here for so long. She speaks Chinese and Vietnamese fluently with English not far behind and she knows the reason my Khmer is not good is because I don't put the effort into practising it!

Also what is her level of education? And is she outgoing? The reason being if she is a bit of a shrinking violet type she may be a bit withdrawn once you go home and this will lead to more issues. If, however, she is reasonably well educated and outgoing she may well learn quickly once exposed to English in her day-to-day life.
TeachingForPeanuts
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Re: How much do you guys correct your girlfriend's English?

Post by TeachingForPeanuts » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:31 am

IraHayes wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:20 am
I would just like to add, for clarity, that my wife constantly berates me for not having a much better knowledge of the Khmer language after living here for so long. She speaks Chinese and Vietnamese fluently with English not far behind and she knows the reason my Khmer is not good is because I don't put the effort into practising it!

Also what is her level of education? And is she outgoing? The reason being if she is a bit of a shrinking violet type she may be a bit withdrawn once you go home and this will lead to more issues. If, however, she is reasonably well educated and outgoing she may well learn quickly once exposed to English in her day-to-day life.
Thanks. I don't want to be an asshole. I don't want to control her. I just want her to commit to learning English. It's important, it's not just something I think is important.
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Re: How much do you guys correct your girlfriend's English?

Post by xandreu » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:40 am

Her main difficulty, as it is with all ESL students in Cambodia, is that she only needs to speak English infrequently. She will learn some new vocab or a particular grammar rule, and then go back to speaking Khmer.

She won't be able to do this when she's in your home country. English will have to become her primary language, and this will greatly accelerate her fluency.

Learning another language for most people is hard. Very hard. And most people don't do it because they enjoy it, they do out of necessity. Even Khmer ESL learners who know they'll probably never go and live in an English speaking country do it because they think it will improve their job prospects. Most don't do it out of a love of learning another language. I hate learning Khmer. I have much better, more enjoyable things I'd rather do with my time, but I do it because I plan to live here for the foreseeable future and I know it makes my life so much easier. But I still hate it and find it very difficult.

I wouldn't worry too much about your GF's English for now. Obviously keep trying to encourage her to speak correctly, but as you've probably already noticed, when you correct her, she will simply repeat what you've just told her she should have said, and then an hour later after she's called her Khmer friend and spoken at length in Khmer, will then go back to English with you and make the same mistake again.

She will only fully 'get' English properly when she's living in an English speaking country with no Khmer friends or family to revert back to Khmer with.
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Re: How much do you guys correct your girlfriend's English?

Post by TeachingForPeanuts » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:47 am

xandreu wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:40 am

She will only fully 'get' English properly when she's living in an English speaking country with no Khmer friends or family to revert back to Khmer with.
What if she arrives in my home country and spends a lot of time chatting with Khmer friends on Facebook and watching Khmer TV shows on youtube while I'm at work? I'm worried that she's not going to magically improve just by moving to an English speaking country, and her transition will be easier if her English improves before she moves.
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IraHayes
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Re: How much do you guys correct your girlfriend's English?

Post by IraHayes » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:50 am

TeachingForPeanuts wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:31 am
Thanks. I don't want to be an asshole. I don't want to control her. I just want her to commit to learning English. It's important, it's not just something I think is important.
You know it is important because your experience tells you there will be an advantage to speaking English as it will make her life easier and the learning curve, provided she has a modicum of ability before she arrives, will be pretty steep and she will grow her language skills pretty quickly.
This falls into the (P)arent category nicely as parents have the foresight to plan ahead and counter potential problems before they arise.
Do you speak English all the time with her? Does she ask about specific words you use? has her english improved during your time together?
You may find you are worrying over nothing as by the time you move she may be in a position to cope quite well once she is forced to use english all the time, and for every thing she has to do.
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Re: How much do you guys correct your girlfriend's English?

Post by hunter8 » Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:14 am

The biggest problem Cambodians and other SEA nations have with English is not grammar but mispronouncing, especially when they completely omit consonant endings, sometimes half the word. You hear it all the time from waitresses “Sir, you fini?” Of course, from the context we understand they mean the word “finished”. In other cases there is no context or it’s unclear and I often have to ask them to say again. Which is a loss of face for many of them, that is why your girlfriend shuts down after you correct her. I am sure I sound as awful when I try to speak Khmer.

Language environment will not magically help when you move to an English speaking country. There needs to be a conscious effort to improve and acceptance of the fact that loss of face and awkwardness will be your friends for a long time. Watching tv and listening to radio helps improve if the student is putting in an effort to listen carefully and imitate. Otherwise it is no more useful than background noise.
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Nicolas
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Re: How much do you guys correct your girlfriend's English?

Post by Nicolas » Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:14 am

IraHayes wrote:
TeachingForPeanuts wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:05 am
My girlfriend and I are thinking of moving back to my home country in 2021, where she will have to speak English all the time. In preparation for this, I've started correcting her English more when she makes mistakes, and she responds poorly to this and shuts down and more or less stops speaking so that I can't correct her.

I've offered to put her back in English classes but she is resistant to that. She thinks she can learn English just by watching English language movies and English lesson youtube videos, but she won't set aside a specific time every day to do this, and I think she ends up watching like 15 minutes of lessons every other day.

She can understand basic conversational English and can answer questions with correct sentence fragments, which would make someone think her English is more fluent than it is. but when I then ask her to answer in a full sentence, she will usually make some kind of grammatical error. For example, when using a noun in English, we always have to choose between using a, the, or no article, and she gets it wrong roughly 2/3 of the time. Will people understand what she means? Yes. Should I correct her every time she makes a mistake using articles? I don't know.

I don't want my relationship with my girlfriend to be like a teacher-student or parent-child relationship, but I don't know what else I should do here.
There is some interesting therapy research that has to do with ego states. Theramin Trees on youtube has some very informative videos on what these are and how they dictate our relationships with others.
There are 3 basic states. (P)arent (A)dult (C)hild and you appear to already be well into a P-C relationship with your girlfriend. One of the main indicators of a P state is controlling behaviour. You are pushing for her to 'learn' english as, like any parent, you know best. Her response is a refusal to partake in the discussion so she shuts down and won't talk. A pretty classic child ego state.

More on this here....
Thanks for the video!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Sweet Lemon
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Re: How much do you guys correct your girlfriend's English?

Post by Sweet Lemon » Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:17 am

hunter8 wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:14 am

Language environment will not magically help when you move to an English speaking country.
I know a longtime expat who moved to Australia with his ex-bargirl Cambodian girlfriend. She has been there 2+ years now and he says her English is now worse than it was when she arrived.
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