Learning English As Second Language || The Funny Stories

Learning English As Second Language || The Funny Stories

If you are new to my blog/social media, you may not know that I was not born and raised in America. I came to the states when I was 33 years old. Being an ESL (English as Second Language) person, there have been so many funny moments caused by the language barrier that I still can’t stop laughing at myself about. 😉

Learning English As Second Language || The Funny Stories

My late husband was American with almost no Chinese language knowledge, and I was Chinese with almost no English when we first met in Shanghai. Body language and a language dictionary were things that helped us communicate. Other girls carry their makeup essentials when they go on a date, I carried my dictionary. LOl. I was at the very beginning of learning English, and I was quite confused with some very similar words. One day, before we headed out, I said: “Don’t forget your cat!” He was very confused and looked around his hotel room, then asked: “Why?” I said: “Because it is cold outside” He suddenly just cracked up. “I think you meant hat, not cat.” Lol!

Learning English As Second Language || The Funny Stories

One time when we were at our favorite restaurant in Shanghai, there was a band singing some happy American songs. We were dancing along with others on the floor. Then the singer asked:”Are you happy?” Everyone answers: “Yes!” “Are you full?” “Yes!” I was yelling with others. “Are you horny?” “YES!” For some reason, I was the only one who answered and everyone else was just smiling at me. My late husband was laughing so hard. Later he explained horny to me and I was like “Oops!”

Learning English As Second Language || The Funny Stories

Later, my late husband went back to America. We chatted every day twice on Skype. He was pretty much my language teacher and often taught me some slang without my knowledge. One day when I turned on my Skype, he was already waiting there, along with his daughter. We had never met and that was the first time we ever saw each other. I don’t really remember what we were talking about, but I did remember that his adult daughter (now my step-daughter) suddenly laughed so hard when I said I was going to “kick your ass” to him. Later I learned that I could just say “kick your butt” for the same effect. I am quite lucky that this impression didn’t ruin the relationship between my step-daughter and me.

Learning English As Second Language || The Funny Stories

Other than learning from my late husband, after I moved to America, watching TV was another way I learned English. About 3 years after living in America, I got my teaching certificate and became a teacher. At that time, I was still struggling with the huge differences between school cultures. I knew there were a few 8th-grade boys who disliked me when I was being very strict. So one day I said in front of the whole class: “I know you think I am a bitch, but…” Suddenly the whole class was deadly quiet and I could tell they were trying hard to not laugh out loud. I was like “oops, did I say something wrong?” Sure enough, that afternoon I was called to my principal’s office. She said: “Grace, I know you are a very proper and professional person. Can you tell me why you said “bitch” today?” I answered: “I learned from TV that every time when others dislike a woman, they call her bitch. Now I think I know it is a bad word based on my student’s reaction”

Learning English As Second Language || The Funny Stories

I am a very lucky person that most people have treated me with patience and respect even when they are confused with what I said. Are you a second language learner? What are your funny stories of learning a new language?

Learning English As Second Language || The Funny Stories

Photo credit: Grace Liang/@anstam

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Grace

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8 thoughts on “Learning English As Second Language || The Funny Stories”

  1. Enlightening story Grace! I am sure at the time it wasn’t. I too wasn’t born in the US either. I learned English in the Philippines but had a heavy accent when my family came to the US. It was hard to adapt at first since people couldn’t understand what I was saying even though what I said was in English. Now people think I was born here! Funny how things work out huh?

    Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com

  2. Grace, thanks for sharing these cute stories! There is a saying in the US that goes “I tried every trick in the book” and I remember using that once when speaking to a friend from Argentina. While her grasp of the English language was superb, some of the idioms and phrases she did not understand. Her reply to me was, “What book?” I had no idea how to answer her because there is not an actual book with tricks in it that the saying refers to! We both had a good laugh afterwards though!

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

  3. Wow, you’ve certainly done a fantastic job learning the language. It must have been interesting working with the students as they are frequently using slang and listening to what you say.

  4. At 19 I went to the Defense Language Institute to learn German. Our teachers were all native speakers of German and good at English, but as it turns out, not perfect. We had one middle aged teacher who pronounced the name Murray “Moo-ray” till we taught her that it rhymes with “Furry.” That gave Mr. Murray a new nickname. And then she got in trouble seeming to flirt with Furry Murray, got flustered, and insisted she wasn’t trying to “rape the cradle.” Another classmate pronounced a few things wrong one day. He was supposed to say the vacuum cleaner salesman entered the apartment and demonstrated the vacuum cleaner. It came out that he kicked the door in and seduced the vacuum cleaner.

  5. First of all you look so polished in your shorts’ outfit. Love it. Like you, I am an ESL person and Albanian is my first language. I can’t recall of many unusual or unique language barrier situations but every now and then some people may have had a hard time with my accent though most people say is minimal and say say is very little or very light. Anyway, thanks for sharing your cute stories.

    Welcome join my Tuesdays monthly linkup. It is the last Tuesday of every month, also join my Thursday Moda every week and share your beautiful style, Thanks!! =)) Ada.

  6. Hahahaha “bitch”!!! Loved that, Grace 🙂 like you, English is most certainly not my first language and coming to the States, I had to also adjust to the fact that the English I spoke/read was Queen’s English, and there are many differences between that and American English. It’s been an interesting learning curve getting acquainted with colloquial terms. Interesting but fun 🙂 you should make this a regular column, my friend, your adventures with English xoxo

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