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Bad English

Bad English English, baby! Video Lesson

Date: Apr 13 2007


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

When you are learning another language, it is difficult to blend what you learn in books with how people actually talk.

In every language, people stutter, insert extra words and use expressions that are not in the dictionary.

English, baby! members sometimes comment on the “bad English” of our cast members. For example, they say we shouldn’t be saying “like” so much. But “like” is very common in the spoken language. Of course, you would never use the expression in writing unless you were quoting someone.

Listen to Amanda and Kevin talk about bad English.

3. Watch - Watch the video without reading the dialog.


1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.





Amanda:  So what’s interesting is I have a four year-old son…

Kevin:  OK.

Amanda:  ... and so we’re trying to teach him the language. The English language. But it’s very difficult to realize that, how we speak with all the slang and the poor construction using “like,” “um,” the pausing…

Kevin:  The colloquialisms.

Amanda:  Yes. Pausing, “um,” “Like, well”... It’s so difficult to curb that while you’re teaching a child because you don’t want to teach that or pass it on. It’s near impossible.

Kevin:  Well, it is but his English will eventually get good. But it does take sort of coaching, right?

Amanda:  Absolutely.

Kevin:  And, and good teaching, both from the parents as well as in school.

Amanda:  You don’t realize how much you do it yourself.

Kevin:  Mm hm.

Amanda:  You know which mistakes are mistakes and you just, that’s how you’ve taught yourself.

Kevin:  Yeah.

Amanda:  You’ve trained yourself incorrectly.

Kevin:  It’s very interesting.

Amanda:  And it’s so hard to rewind and go the right way even though you know what’s right.

Kevin:  I used to be an ESL teacher and a lot of students would write in essays the word gonna... g-o-n-n-a.

Amanda:  Oh no.

Kevin:  Which they didn’t realize was OK verbally but written, is, is not appropriate.

Amanda:  Right.

Kevin:  So it takes a lot of practice.

Amanda:  It does. I’m working on it…

Kevin:  It will come.

Amanda:  ... still!



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Amanda is teaching her four-year-old how to talk. It is making her realize her own poor speaking habits.

Kevin has a lot of teaching experience. He assures Amanda that her son will learn how to speak properly despite her own mistakes.

Kevin also points out that his ESL students would use colloquialisms (like “gonna”) as written language.

Do you have bad habits in your native language?

Would it be hard for someone to learn the difference between the spoken and the written in your language?



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Russian Federation

I always find it difficult to understand some dialogues in american movies when actors use poor construction  in their speech and talk too fast.

So that I prefer to read books and listen to news broadcast and  educational programms when study English.

The problem of using colloquialisms is relevant for my native language too. Some people use them constantly, especially if they are exited or indignant or when they are not sure what to say.

As for me, I do all possible to avoid using them, as I want my speech to be correct in any situation.


05:23 PM Jun 04 2013 |




I from  in Iraq I speak arabic and turkman and kurdy  .but my english is bad .I want to learn english .In order to know each other together and communicate in order to learn the English language.

04:31 AM May 10 2013 |




my english  is  poor ,I want to learn english.

06:54 AM May 02 2013 |

1 person likes this




I speak Arabic and I have some problems in English, I usually  use “y’know”, when I speak English , and I don’t really fond out appropriate words to express what I wanna say , I’ve to say also that the american accent is so difficult to understand , I’ve got to repeat the speech for many times to get understand what they’re saying.

I want to give my opinion about this topic, it’s true that in written English , using those words like “wanna , gonna ” it’s something to delete only if we are in an exam or something like that , because personally , I use this “poor words” when I talk to friends , even here , I just fed up with caring about how I’ve to write , word by word, but if this person is a child , we have to make attention and trying to write and even speak correctly, because at this age , they memorize all we say easily. 

Anyway , I’ve got to repeat this vid for once again , because just like I’ve said , it’s so difficult to me , to understand what they say actually. 

09:31 PM Mar 30 2013 |




I’m trying to learn english! I know I have still bad knowledge in this! I’m learning it myself without any teachers. My problem is writing and speaking. So, I wanted to say sorry for my bad and poor comment on this site. But I am trying and hope I’m growing. 

08:14 PM Mar 30 2013 |




08:37 AM Mar 04 2013 |



I am from Croatia, and I try to improve my English..when I came to Canada I attended ESl school..when I start it was hard because I couldnt understand what people actually talk..i use lots colloguisalisms”um” or “like”..I know that it takes lots of practice..i need more teaching, coaching..English as a second Lenguage or ESL help me lots..

06:30 PM Mar 02 2013 |

1 person likes this

thewaytoyourhartSuper Member!


I’m Hungarian, so I can proudly state I speak one of the most difficult languages in the world. Beside that I also speak and teach German. Using ur mother tangue unless u are a linguistician u hardly ever realize how sophisticated and complicated is it. Mostly u just use it fluently. Once u try to teach a foreigner in ur native language u reliaze the hardships and difficulties of the grammar, the structure, etc..and u migt face the same problem if u start learning a foreign language..

I’ d like to believe that I’ ve a flair for languages but to tell the truth I’m quite slow in uptake which make me difficult to progress (f.i. understanding of the fast native speech,..)

I’ve never been to any English spoken countries yet. I’ve learnt this language in school, so I use rather school English that is far away from  being real. Talking with a native u soon  realize the difference. They use far more colloquialisms,  idioms and slangs, which make the language more lively, but sometimes also misunderstandable. 

It s not so noticable in my native language, but we also very often use them. It s similar with the difference between the formal and informal style as well. 

Once I had a German student, a 10 years old boy wanted to learn Hungarian ( did’nt speak a word in Hungarian). So it was a real challenge for me, cos I’d never ever tought Hungarian to a native. Actually its more difficult than the opposite way..

09:50 PM Feb 12 2013 |




I speak Dari(Persian) which is my native language, but when I speak English, I do also use the poor construction as: Like, For Example.. the biggest problem that I have is with the pronounciation. In my daily life I speak Persian, Pashto(Local language in Afghanistan), English sometimes Urdo and Arabic while praying or reading Quran. So all these has effected my tongue and I cannot pronouce easy things for example I cannot pronounce TH properly like THE, BOTH. TH is prounced almost the same with one of the letters in Arabic which is ث . Once someone asked me my phone number, when I told him the last number which is 3, he laughted at me and said: Tree? I said no, Stree. Then he said: Now it is okay. By the way, I am trying to overcome these problems..You know at the end of the day I feel pain in my tongue as I have to speak at least 4 language daily

11:21 AM Feb 04 2013 |




My native language is Ukrainian. I think each person have some ’’bad words’’ in his vocabulary))) but it’s very important to distinguish spoken and written language. 

About difficulties in learning written language – it depends on person! All that you’ll need – TRY)))

09:01 AM Jan 27 2013 |




07:22 AM Jan 27 2013 |



My native language is chinese and I can not speak english well.But i will try my best to learn it.

05:39 AM Jan 27 2013 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

colloquialisms are nessesary to speak properly ,so we must listen and listen to learn them , and in order to learn written english we can read several books.

12:38 PM Dec 21 2012 |

Irene Forever


My native languages are Russian and Ukrainian. I speak and write both equally well. As my own  languages are good enough because of my educational level, I can’t see any differences between two styles. Still Russian and Ukrainian are totally different languages in their vocabularies. It’s surprising to know that Ukrainian people living in different regions may not understand each other while talking because of influence of bordering countries: Russia, Belarus, Poland, Moldova, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. In the Ukrainian language there are slang words and expressions  too, but not so many as in American English.

The main thing to do while teaching little children is to speak correctly. My grandchild is only one year old  and none of my family  uses baby talk while speaking to him.

03:52 PM Dec 20 2012 |


Serbia and Montenegro

Well, i think that native speakers in general have bad habits in speaking their own language like using abbreviations, colloquialisms, or merge some words and pronounce them quickly so it become unintelligible. But the problem is for foreigners who don’t know that language very well. The real example is me. Sometimes, i cant understand English native speakers even though my English is on high level… I think that it is understandable for non-speakers…

Regarding to my language, it’s easy to write it, because you write words exactly the same as you pronounce it….:) So, start with learning Serbian ;)

09:59 PM Dec 07 2012 |



hi,.actually i can write well..while speaking am not getting proper english…struggling for words to use while spaeking..can you please help me..do something to improve my spoken english beter

05:39 PM Dec 02 2012 |


Iran, Islamic Republic Of

if your mean is a person who dousen’t know about english,firs i was very bad  went to the class to but my english speaking and writing was awful,but now my speaking is really better but i have a little problem with my writing,when i use this web my english is better.

10:36 AM Nov 20 2012 |

1 person likes this



it’s too fast for me to undenstand what they are talking about. After reading the dialog, i see it’s really a interesting topic.

06:38 AM Nov 08 2012 |



Saudi Arabia


07:37 PM Oct 27 2012 |



This really happens in my native language. Some people may add an “ur” before any sentence. More interestingly, one of my friends learned the English “you know” and even used it in every sentence when he speaks Chinese as “ni zhi dao ba”.

02:24 AM Oct 26 2012 |

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