Learning series: The Comedy of Errors – Part 4

StereotypesWhen it comes to a second language, we all have confessions to make about how unwisely we can behave at times. So feel free to throw the first stone if you have always resisted the temptation to act like one (or all) of the types below.

Posh Spice

They imitate an accent in order to impress others. Many of them prefer certain British accents and try hard to sound like Jeremy Irons or Liz Hurley when they speak. There is no harm in doing that; the problem arises when you think the accent itself is what really matters. Your own accent is not a fault; it is part of who you are. Spend more time working on good pronunciation and on how to communicate effectively. When you are well understood despite your natural accent, you will not care much about having another. The main goal will already have been achieved.

Tire suas dúvidas sobre os tempos verbais, baixe um guia grátis da Englishtown: Guia de Tempos Verbais em Inglês. Ele contém um resumo bem estruturado para revisar os conceitos que você aprendeu na escola. Clique aqui e saiba como baixar!

Speedy Gonzales

¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! It seems they are in a competition. They speak as fast as they can with the hope that their swift talk will bear a resemblance to the English spoken by native speakers. Give me a break! Surely we are more likely to make mistakes by accelerating our speech. If you speak too quickly you will not be able to think as clearly about what you are saying. Thus, you may say things that you do not want to, just to make an impression. Easy, there! Slow and steady is better than fast and furious in this case. You are not sprinting, just speaking.

I’m Da Man

They learn swearwords and slang just to throw them randomly into the middle of sentences. They want to knock you out with their knowledge, not understanding that slang can easily be omitted when talking to a native speaker. For sure, certain slang words can be humorous and there is no harm in using them. But, believe me, it is better not to bother trying to use them just to sound cool or knowledgeable. Learn slang, yes, but do not think for a moment that slang replaces well-formed sentences or that by knowing many slang words you are actually speaking great English. If you still struggle with the verb ‘to be’, you have lots of homework to do. Slang is part of the colourfulness of the language, not the main thing. So go easy, dude!



Their pursuit of attention makes the Smarty-Pants pitiful creatures at times. They seem to lack some TLC in life and will interrupt you to correct every little thing. They do not relax and do not allow others to relax either. Even though something can be considered right, they try to find a way to highlight a possible mistake, or have the last say. Their goal is to embarrass others by making little of what these people know or are trying to grasp. They want to be seen as those who know the route to the Holy Grail of grammar. These Indiana Joneses represent a very common type out there. Do not allow them to discourage you and, please, if you are one of them, well, chill out!

* “The Comedy of Errors” is a comedy written by William Shakespeare.

~ Erica De Monaco Lowry ~

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Erica De Monaco Lowry

Erica De Monaco Lowry has been living in Ireland since 2008. She is a teacher, an interpreter, a translator, a tour guide and an insatiable learner. Her favorite pastimes include reading, travelling, socialising and catching up with her family.

10 comentários

  • 19/03/14  
    Bruno H. Paes diz: 1

    Good tips! Sometimes people can think “I’ll impress the crowd”, but it can be annoying :-)

    • 20/03/14  
      Erica diz:

      That’s true, Bruno. Thanks for your comment. :-)

  • 19/03/14  
    Dionatan diz: 2

    That’s an interesting text Erica, thanks for share it with us.

    • 20/03/14  
      Erica diz:

      Thank you for commenting, Dionatan. :-)

  • 19/03/14  
    Caio diz: 3

    I couldn’t agree more, Erica!
    I used to be a mix of Posh Spice + Smarty-Pants, these days are gone.

    Thank you!

    • 20/03/14  
      Erica diz:

      Thanks for sharing that, Caio! Isn’t it great to be able to change our behaviour? :-)

  • 20/03/14  
    Dale Thomas diz: 4

    Good article!

    Airline personnel love to impress one another with how fast they speak English. The faster the speaker talks, the less the listener understands. In Brazil I remember waiting for the message to be repeated in Portuguese so I could figure out what had just been said in my mother tongue. Airlines would do well to record the messages in English, and then go over them with the speakers, pointing out ways to improve pronunciation. The goal is communication, not speed.

    The interest in acquiring a specific accent is interesting. The fact is most speakers will speak English with a Brazilian accent all their lives. So what? Having a foreign accent merely means that you have learned another language. Native speakers have accents too. I am from California. In Texas, Florida, and elsewhere natives know I am not local. So? Sue me.

    • 21/03/14  
      Erica diz:

      That’s a great thing to keep in mind: native speakers also have their own accents! Thanks for your comment, Dale. Let’s sue everyone! ;-)

  • 24/03/14  
    Sergio diz: 5

    Great tips, mostly when it comes to speak fast, under the wrong impression that fluency has to do with the speed of speach.

    • 06/04/14  
      Erica diz:

      Yes, the speed is important for Speedy Gonzalez, but not for day-to-day speech. Unless you’re in danger, of course! Thanks, Sergio.