Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hi everyone!  Students often ask me about the cultural differences between friendship and acquaintance in America and how to know when someone really wants to be your friend.    I talk about it in this video but let expand on it a little.

First off, in this video I talk about a lunch invite.   Now, being asked to go downstairs to the franchised sandwich shop, like Cosi or Panera to get the office order for lunch--that's not an indicator that someone wants to be your friend.   However, if they invite you personally to lunch at an actual restaurant--as opposed to a franchise or a chain, and its going to be you and a couple of other guys or gals--this is an indicator that they want to start to make friends.

You see the difference?  A chain food place or a franchise--that's not really a "lunch invite".  A lunch invite is when you *personally* are invited to grab a bite at a diner or a restaurant.   Now if someone wants to invite you *personally* and a couple of other people to a higher end chain or restaurant--say like a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse or somewhere on that level--or a  Benihana or what have you--that *is* an indicator that they want to be real friends, or start to be real friends.

It has to do with two things: One, how personal or personalized is the invitation--is it to you personally and directly and no one else, and two how nice is the place where you're going?   Most professional Americans, quite frankly, tend to consider places like Cosi and Panera and places like that to be "junk" food.    Ruth's Chris Steakhouse or a similar place, or a Benihana or an independently owned diner is not junk see?

Hey, if you have other questions on this topic or any other topic of American culture, corporate culture, or conversational culture, give me a call at (732) 807-5424, or hit me up on Skype at   Also check out my American Idiom of the Day Twitter Feed or check out my ESL and Accent Reduction Training Website for details about ESL and accent reduction lessons and how you can get your FREE phone consult and book a first lesson.  All right?  Would love to hear from you.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Coming of the Fall Season

Well, its almost fall.   Its been a while since I updated this blog.   I was working a lot and doing a lot of music--I'm also a musician--but now its getting on towards fall and people get to thinking about ways to improve themselves--accent reduction is a great way to improve yourself, if you are a  nonnative English speaker, and people have difficulty understanding you.

Here's a little tip--in America, we discuss politics a LOT.   We are very politically opinionated.   People often say not to discuss religion or politics, but the reality is you shouldn't discuss politics with people you don't *know* well.   But among friends, or close colleagues at work, we discuss politics all the time, even when we disagree.    Also, you may find that Americans lampoon our politicians to an extreme degree (lampoon means "to make fun of" or to "satirize"--for instance in political cartoons in newspapers.)   We do this with all kinds of people--politicians, CEOs of large corporations, all kinds of well known and wealthy people.

In America, we have the concept of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States--what it essentially means is that we have a virtually unlimited right to say whatever we want to say in public and the American government will not stop us from saying it.   There ARE certain things we cannot say--we cannot engage in seditious speech (courts have generally put very narrow limits on what is considered 'seditious'--it has to  be pretty bad.),  nor can we do things like yell "FIRE" in crowded theatre (inciting to riot), or make threats against people, nor can we tell lies in public about private individuals (this has generally been interpreted narrowly by courts in terms of reputation destroying speech).   Generally, that's the extent of it.  Everything else is fair game.  In America, we believe that people have a right to say whatever they like and the truth will float to the top.

If you have any questions about the American culture of free speech and what topics are good to make small talk with your colleagues about (and which ones are taboo) give me a call at (732) 807-5424 or check out my website at David Berlin's ESL and Accent Reduction Training.  Also subscribe to my American Idiom of the Day Twitter Feed. I give lessons to help you reduce your accent, make American style small talk, improve your American English vocabulary and grammar and generally become more comfortable with the English language.