Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Words Used by Native English Speakers

One of my ESL students gave me a topical Chinese medicine for sore muscles. I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to read the directions, but my student assured me that the directions were also written in English. Indeed, they were.

In fact, the directions were very well written in perfect English. My experience with products made in non-English speaking countries is that the directions are often a little "off." The grammar or spelling or word choice is usually off.

I was impressed by the very clear and grammatically correct English used for the directions. The one thing that was a clear sign (to me at least) that the directions were not written by a native speaker was the use of the word "sportive." The directions said something like, "for use on sore muscles caused by sportive injuries." Yes, sportive is a legitimate word. And any native English speaker will understand the use of this word. However, a native speaker is going to use the word "sports" in this instance.

Word choice is often one of the things that my advanced English language learners are particularly interested in. They want to know how the "natives" speak. Teaching this type of vocabulary is often a lot easier for native English tutors than for English tutors whose first language is not English.


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