Have Sympathy

When you hear a foreigner try to communicate in your mother tongue with a heavy accent, do you judge him or her silently in your head, or do you hold a level of sympathy in your heart for that person?

Learning a foreign language is never an easy task. One’s linguistic predisposition and learning capacities don’t make the process any less challenging than it normally is. We all can speak a few words in another language. For us to truly master a foreign language, studying grammars and memorizing vocabularies are just the beginning. We also need to learn, most importantly, to live the culture and the history associated with that language. All aspects considered, it is quite an exhausting undertaking.

Just because someone, who is not fluent in English doesn’t mean that he or she is stupid.

One of my favorite TV shows is The Amazing Race. What annoys me the most while watching the show is when the question; or rather, statement as such is made in non-English speaking countries, “no one speaks English here? They are so stupid!” Every team on the show is in a pressure-cooker situation for the most part. Although it’s understandable that angry and frustrating words may be voiced at times; however, under no circumstance should the act of belittlement be tolerated and accepted. The racers supposedly try to point out the ignorance of others’, what they end up exposing, unintentionally, is their own bigoted self. English speakers, oftentimes, derive their sense of superiority from the popularity of their mother tongue on a global scale; not knowing this sense of entitlement is such a turn off for many.

Not everyone needs to learn to speak English, and just because you speak English doesn’t make you more racially, academically and intellectually superior than non-English speakers.

Next time when you hear someone speak English with a heavy accent; instead of judging the heck out of that person, have some sympathy and admiration for the effort made by that person.


Published by Robbie's Blog

I am a third-culture person who's navigating his way around Hong Kong and beyond. Come join me on this rollercoaster ride.

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