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老外直言:如何让人以为你英语很棒

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We all know studying English is hard, and it takes years, if not decades, to master it. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were some way to fool people into thinking your English was perfect, without going through all that hard work? I'd like to share with my Chinese friends some tricks that I've developed over the course of the past few years for the purpose of fooling Chinese people into thinking my Chinese is perfect. Though these techniques were developed for Chinese, I find that they also work well for Chinese people trying to learn English. Just master these few simple tricks, and your English will improve overnight!

1. First, learn to speak English.废话, you say. Yes, I'm joking, of course. But seriously, these tricks will work only if you have at least the basics of English. And a good accent is the first requirement, since it will get you 90% of the way. If your pronunciation -- especially of vowels -- is accurate, English speakers will be willing to ignore little mistakes in grammar and the strange vocabulary you might use.

2. Adopt a relaxed, unhurried speaking style, so that people will assume your reaction time is naturally slow. You don't have to appear stupid (though this has certain advantages), but it helps to have people assume you're the type of person who thinks about each sentence carefully before speaking. This gives you time to think. It's better for others to assume you're a bit slow, rather than to realize how wretched your English is.

3. Let the other person supply the word you need. The way you accomplish this is simply to hesitate before uttering some crucial word -- a word that you may not be sure of -- but which should be obvious to any native speaker based on the context. The listener, perfectly aware of what you want to say and impatient for you to get on with the conversation, will prompt you or provide you with a usable word. Try to time it so that you repeat the word a second after they say it, so that it seems as if you too were about to say that exact word. This will make them feel good, because it will make them feel they are smarter than you are. (People are very happy when they feel they are smarter than you.) The resulting dialogue will sound something like this:

You: And that guy didn't even know where China is on the map. The guy is such a... [Here you pause.]

Other person: Idiot.

You: ...idiot, right. I was thinking to myself, "Wow, if I were that guy, I would really feel... feel..." [You pause again.]

Other person: Humiliated.

You: ...humiliated, exactly. What an idiot!

4. Memorize a lot of hesitation and qualifying phrases. These are phrases like, "Oh, how can I put it?...", "Perhaps I can put it this way...", and "Oh, what should I say?..." This will give you time to think of responses and to recall rusty vocabulary items. The listener doesn't know what's going on inside your head, and he or she will think you really are searching through your vast vocabulary, looking for that perfect word that will accurately express the complex subtlety of your brilliant thought.

5. Avoid subtlety. Give simple, black-and-white answers to questions, regardless of the complexity of your true opinion. If someone asks, "What did you think of the movie?", you may be thinking something like "Well, the cinematography was fabulous, natural-light interior shots with exquisite Vermeer-like shades of luminous white -- a pastel symphony!" and so on. Would you be able to express all that in fluent English? Of course not. Forget it. Instead you should respond with something like, "Oh, how can I put it?... Just so-so. Just okay. I liked Titanic better." The listener won't have any idea what you really thought of the movie, but will be impressed with the casual ease with which you express your opinions in English, and will also be impressed that you know phrases like "just so-so.".

Okay, that's about all. This should give you a good start. Remember this important principle in life: the appearance of ability is more important than actual ability itself. If they think you can do it, you've got the job. If they don't think you can do it, it doesn't matter what your actual ability is. So learn to fake it, and you'll go much further than your hard-working friends.

My next articles include "How to fool people into believing you're a brain surgeon" and "How to fake being the president of a superpower nation."

老外直言:如何让人以为你英语很棒

我们都知道学英语很难,要学几年甚至几十年才能掌握。如果有一种方法能让别人以为你的英语很棒可又不用下苦功夫,那该多好啊!在过去的几年里,我总结出一套让中国人以为我的汉语很棒的窍门,我想在此和中国朋友分享它们。虽然这些窍门是在我学中文的过程中总结出的,但我发现它们同样适用于中国人学英文。掌握这几个小窍门吧,你的英语会在一夜之间突飞猛进!

1.首先要学习英文。你会说这是废话,不错,我是在开玩笑。但是,说真的,这些窍门要想发挥作用,至少要有基本的英语能力。良好的发音是第一位的,这会让你的表达收到90%的效果。如果你的发音———尤其是元音字母的发音非常准确,母语是英语的人们就会忽略你的语法小错误和所用的怪词。

2.采取一种放松的、的不紧不慢的说话方式,这样人们就会认为你是天生的慢性子。当然你也不必显出弱智的样子(虽然这样也有一定的好处),但慢慢讲话会让人以为你就是那种说话字斟句酌的人,这一点可是有用,这会给你充分的时间去思考。让别人觉得你有点迟钝,总比发现你的英语其实很糟糕要好。

3.让别人来补充你所需要的单词。这种方法就是在你讲出某个关键词之前做一个小小的停顿,这个词你有可能拿不准,但是以英语为母语的人可以毫不费力地根据上下文猜出这个词。人家完全知道你想要说什么,而且急着将谈话继续下去,就会提醒你或者说出这个恰当的词。你要掌握好时间,在他们刚一说出之后,你立马就重复这个词,似乎你也正要说这个词,这会让他们感觉很好,因为这使他们觉得自己比你聪明(人们感到自己比别人聪明时,都会非常得意的)。结果谈话就会是这样子的:

你说:那小子竟然不知道地图上中国在哪儿,他可真是个……(这里你开始停顿)

对方:傻瓜。

你说:对,对,傻瓜,这正是我想说的。噢,如果我是那家伙,我会觉得,觉得……(你再次停顿)

对方:非常羞愧。

你说:对,非常羞愧,正是。这小子真傻!

4.背一些犹豫时使用的词和修饰语。它们是这样的一些语句:“噢,我该怎么表达呢?……”“也许我该这么表达……”“噢,这让我该怎么说呢?……”插进这样的语句可以赢得时间来思考应对办法,回忆生疏的词汇。对方当然无法洞悉你头脑中的想法,他们会以为你是在庞大的词汇库里搜寻最恰当的单词来表达你那复杂微妙的聪明想法。

5.回避微妙话题。对于所谈话题,你不必顾及自己的真实想法多么复杂,只给出简单的黑白分明的回答即可。如果某人问道:“你认为这部电影怎么样?”你也许会认为:这部电影的摄影艺术真是无与伦比,一系列运用自然光的室内镜头,在明亮中还带有荷兰画家弗美尔式的优美阴影,简直是一首柔和的交响乐……你能把这些都用英语流利地表达出来吗?当然不能,那就算了吧!你应该这样应对:“噢,我该怎么说呢?一般般吧,还可以。我更喜欢《泰坦尼克号》。”对方搞不懂你对那部电影的真正看法,但是他们对你能轻松随意地用英语表达观点会留下深刻印象,对你能用“一般般吧”这样的短语也会很欣赏。

好吧,就这些了。这会让你有一个好的开端。请记住这个重要的生活准则:表面上的能力要比实际上的能力更重要。如果别人认为你行,你就能得到这份工作,如果别人认为你不行,无论你的实际能力如何也没用。所以,学会掩饰吧,你会比那些刻苦学习的朋友更有出息。
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