The Better You Speak The Less They Understand

Traveling to Southeast Asia I learnt many things and probably forgotten half of them already. But one thing that strikes me as kind of funny and peculiar is that the better English I speak the less people understand. This post is not meant to shit on anyone, it is just a reflection.

Were you thinking of studying some extra English before you set out on your travels? Well don´t. It probably wont help you very much, but of course it depends on where you are going.

Well maybe I should not even use the word better or worse, but rather complex versus simple.

In Laos, Thailand and Cambodia I found that if I tried to use the English I have picked up along the way, people would not understand me.

For example if you use the word “better” you might not be understood but if you say “more good” then everyone gets it.

So you kind of have to scale it down a level or two just for the sake of being understood. After I had traveled in Australia for 8 months people told me that my English had become a lot better.

After my Asia trip two years ago the same people wondered why my English was so bad all of a sudden. Well not bad per say but simplified, very simplified.

It is just funny to me because in the end it is kind of ironic isn´t it? That the better you speak, the less you get understood. I find it humorous.

For sure it comes as no surprise, in Sweden we start learning English very early. In most Southeast Asian countries you never study it so of course there is a gap.

Luckily for me, everyone understands a smile and after some gestures most things are understood. I might become a pro at charades without even trying!

With that said I am very confident that they would be able to learn English faster than I would be able to learn Thai! It is a real struggle but I will keep learning a few words here and there and hopefully someday I can have a conversation in Thai. Then the English won´t be a problem at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.