Uses of “you” that sound rude, impolite

February 18, 2013

  • Don’t say “I don’t understand YOU,” !! It’s enough to say, “I don’t understand” or “I don’t understand the last part”
  • Don’t say “I can’t hear YOU.” It’s enough to say, “I can’t hear (properly/very well).”

In proposals to professionals, when you are not a professional of that field (e.g., when you are a learner addressing your teacher),

  • Don’t write things like “Here are some ideas which YOU could improve” (!). It’s better to word it like this, for example: “Here are some ideas that MIGHT/COULD help US improve our work in class.”
  • Don’t say “I hope YOU think over my recommendations,” it almost sound like a threat! 😀 Say, “I hope my recommendations are useful!”
  • Don’t say “I hope that all these things can help YOU to improve the lessons”! Say something like “I hope my proposal can help US in class” (it’s adult students who need to do something about not volunteering in speaking activities), or “I hope my proposal is helpful”.
  • Compare these two sentences:
    1. I am writing to suggest some new things that you can do to make lessons more attractive and interesting
    2. I am writing to suggest activities that could make lessons more participatory.
    2′ (higher level of English) I am writing to suggest activities that might (polite) encourage learners to speak in public.

    • Which do you think is a better kind of wording, less risky (to avoid sounding impolite)?

Some advice for tasks where an adult learner should suggest ways in which to improve a language lesson: Don’t make the YOU=teacher responsible for what is not their responsibility. Try to use more indirect statements, not involving anyone, or involving your group, the group of learners who need to improve their behavior/behaviour in class, in terms of speaking. (Adult learners in Madrid should try to acknowledge the responsibility they have in not practicing/practising speaking in public in class. EFL teachers actually do zillions of things to encourage them to do so. Still, adult learners keep making teachers responsible for their lack of practice, and this is ill-focused, meaning this will never allow those people to tackle their problem successfully and overcome it!)

(more to come)

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