Dear Chinese student,
If you’re reading this, you have already decided to seek higher education in an English-speaking country. Congratulations! Going abroad takes a lot of courage, and I’m sure you’ll do very well.
Before you go, though, I’d like to send you a modest list of things to remember when using the English language. While your friends and teachers will no doubt have suggestions of their own, you should keep this list handy. Without further adieu:
The words “beautiful” and “interesting” are neither beautiful nor interesting.
When asked about your favorite food, you don’t have to cite vegetables because they’re good for your health. And that’s health, not healthy.
If you use the phrase “in a word”, you only get one word. That’s it.
As the late New York Times columnist William Safire once noted, “avoid cliches like the plague”. Every coin may have two sides, but being reminded of that is like fingernails on a chalkboard.
It’s OK to say something negative about your hometown, province, or China itself. In fact, it’s refreshing.
Though technically accurate, describing your occupation as “worker” and your aspiration as “boss” isn’t descriptive enough.
Yes, we know China is a developing country.
You can’t relax yourself, as fun as it may sound.
And remember: as embarrassed as you may be about your English, it’s a hell of a lot better than our Chinese will ever be.
Your collective lost laowai.