Year of the Dog's Weblog

How do Japanese people speak English?

Posted on: October 29, 2008

I’ve taught English in Japan for almost two years now. And there are some things that do not change. Japanese people will make mistakes when they speak English and English teachers will make fun of them -sometimes openly and sometimes just in the company of their fellow English teachers. It comes with the territory. Everyone bitches about their job in every field out there. Or at least in English speaking community we do. We try not to go too far. We know that they are trying to learn and we cut them some slack. But when they make the same mistakes week after week after week and no matter how many times you correct them they still keep on making the same grammar and usage mistake it will drive you crazy. Not only that, it rubs off on you. If you hear enough broken English, in time you will start to speak in broken English. It happend to me the first time I came to Japan. When I went home my family said, “What is wrong with you? Talk normal.” It’s not permanent though. I think the effects wore off within a week or so.

Here are some examples of real life English mistakes that some of my students have made in the past:

Where do from? -> Where are you from?

What is mean? -> What does this mean?

I get up my bed. I my hands. And wear clothes. My brush teeth. I eating banana. -> I get up. I wash my face and hands. I get dressed and then I eat a banana.

I wash face and teeth. I make up. I dressed. -> I was my face and brush my teeth. I put on my makeup and get dressed.

I prepare my textbook. I leaving my house.  Because tonight cooking. -> I get my bag ready for school. I leave my house. Tonight I’m going to cook.

Where did you go Tokyo place? -> Where did you go in Tokyo?

I haven’t that movie, I want to see. -> I haven’t seen that movie, but I want to see it.

Do you have reccomend? -> Do you have any reccomendations?

I was shoot somebody. -> Somebody shot me.

Cut the foot. -> I cut my foot.

My brother is heart attack. -> My brother is having a heart attack.

My cousin is stabbing -> My cousin has been stabbed.

My house is fire. -> My house is on fire.

He is white hair. -> He has white hair.

He had a glasses. -> He had glasses.

I stole my purse. -> Somebody stole my purse.

He had not hair. -> He was bald.

Some of you who are reading this are probably laughing yourself silly as many of you who read this blog are English teachers. Some of you are shaking your heads and wishing it wasn’t true. Not that my grammar is perfect in any Japanese or English. I’ve been laughed at for speaking broken or funny Japanese before and rightfully so.

You know your students are improving when they’ll say something incorrect and then laugh at themselves and try to self-correct or give you the look. The look of “Please help me I don’t what to say here” then you clue them in. If you have any examples of common Japanese English mistakes, please share them.

4 Responses to "How do Japanese people speak English?"

I don’t get it… What is mean? :)

Tomorrow, are you holiday? -> Are you off tomorrow?

good job there…

lol, too funny.

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