Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The phrase "How are you doing?" is a *greeting*, not an expression of concern...

A note on American culture: When an American asks, "How are you?" or "How are you doing?" The appropriate answer is, "Fine!" or "Things are good!" in a positive tone, even if it isn't true.

This is because in American culture, the phrase "How are you?" or "How are you doing today?" or "How are things?" is not really a question so much as it is a greeting; it's equivalent to "Hello!".

Americans would be very surprised and a bit taken aback if you answered, "Terrible!" or "Not so great..." particularly in business context. You would appear to be weak, the sort of person who spreads his life's troubles to his workplace, and generally not a team player.

The only time in American culture it is acceptable to answer, "Not so great..." or "Not well..." to this question is when it is asked by a close friend who would geniunely want to know how you are doing. But if a business associate or coworker who you don't know personally very well (this would be most of your coworkers and business associates in the average American corporation) asks, "How are you doing?" It is a simple hello, not an expression of concern, and the appropriate answer is a positive one, such as, "Doing great, thanks!" or "Pretty good!" and not necessarily a truthful or honest one ("My wife has the flu and my son is in the hospital. Not to good.")

Why do Americans do this? There is an explanation, but it is long and detailed and difficult to explain in a simple blog post. If you *really* want to know, call me at (732) 637-7398, or email me at david.berlin.esl@gmail.com, or chat with me via Skype at david.berlin.esl and make an appointment, and I can explain ESL issues, help you reduce your accent to be more understandable to Americans, and generally explain American cultural and corporate cultural points. 'Til then,

Best Regards,


Monday, September 13, 2010

Hello everybody! The latest podcast over there in the corner describes how to know when the /t/ sound is pronounced like a more lightly articulated /d/, as in little or clatter. It's often one of the first things my students ask me, and the answer is very simple. Give it a listen! I hope you enjoy it. As always, you can reach me at (732) 637-7398 (please note that this phone number is *different* from the numbers given below), or you can email me at david.berlin.esl@gmail.com, or contact me via Skype at david.berlin.esl.

If you've found these podcasts helpful or you have suggestions or comments, feel free to post them below.

If you've *really* found these podcasts and posts helpful, I'd be honored and obliged if you'd be willing to pay a dollar for them. See the PayPal button below.

As always, with respect,