My Friend’s English is Zero!



So your friend has no English ability at all and you are planning on travelling or working together which will require some English skills. RELAX you can help him or her yourself.

Here are some things to remember:

1.   Don’t expect too much.   The most important thing is for them to feel comfortable and relaxed when they are around people who speak English. While they are sitting silently, they are actually doing something important, they are listening to the sound and rhythm of English and making friends, even though they are not verbally communicating. A smile and a handshake can be very convincing! This is called acquiring English.

2.   Don’t translate too much in front of others.  Your friend wants to slip quietly into the conversation without looking stupid so how you talk about your friend in front of others can lower their confidence. Don’t say “Oh Mohammed knows nothing….’, just quietly take over the conversation.

3.   Involve your friend in the conversation as much as you think they can take. The last thing your friend wants is to be pushed out of something they might really want to be involved in. You will be surprised after time how much he has actually picked up. E.g. topic areas discussed, key phrases. He may not know exactly what was said, but at least knows the subject area. By asking him simple questions in front of the others can help build his confidence. E.g. ‘do you want to play football?’ Your friend will understand only the word ‘football’, and understand your questioning tone so will probably say ‘yes’ to cover himself. Now he is getting somewhere.

4.   Introduce them to basic words and phrases. Simple things like “Hello I’m Mohammed’, or ‘how are you?’ etc, are great ways to get your friend involved in the conversation. Practice on the bus and at home with him and get him talking.

5.   Encourage him to learn English at an English School.  If you know he will need to speak English more on a long term basis, encourage him to take up a course. He is a lucky person, he already has you as an English speaker to practice with!

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