Many of us are often in situations where we need to speak to a non-native speaker of our language. For me the opposite is even more frequent – I speak passable Japanese for most situations, but I’m certainly not native, not even highly proficient.
In those situations, I’m doing my best to keep up my end of the conversational bargain to communicate to the best of my ability. Nonetheless, I must also place a burden on the listener. I hope that they will work with me to find meaning when I forget a word, use the wrong word or pronounce it with the wrong stress. Fortunately for me, I gave found that an overwhelming number of people do. They’re even polite enough to go along when I’ve misunderstood and responded in an unexpected way.
There are people who fall outside that category, which is unfortunate for us both. Nothing will get me more nervous and mealy-mouthed than the dead look in someone’s eyes as I attempt to make conversation. As the article suggests, they may be able to overcome this by practising. For people in the areas where I live in work, however, they’re not afforded many opportunities to do so.
What may be remarkable, then, is that so many people are good listeners. For them, I am thankful.