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  • Today we're going to talk about making friends in America.

  • This is something a lot of you guys have asked me about.

  • David, I got an email today

  • from a Rachel's English Academy student named Clarence

  • who was saying he goes to school in the US

  • but all of his friends that he's making

  • are other international students.

  • And he says they're great people, they're wonderful friends,

  • but he wants more opportunity to practice his English

  • and to engage with Americans while he's here.

  • And he was asking for some advice

  • about making friends in America.

  • And it reminded me of the podcast that we made,

  • which I'll play at the end of this video,

  • so you won't have to click anywhere to find it,

  • but I also thought it's worth revisiting.

  • It's a big topic.

  • It's a really big topic, yeah.

  • So I thought we could start a little bit

  • by talking about our best friends, how we've made them,

  • and then also now at this stage in life

  • how it's harder to make friends,

  • I think we're both finding,

  • and we can sort of talk about ways

  • to connect with Americans.

  • So out of your very best friends,

  • you have different sets of people, wouldn't you say?

  • Yeah, I think that that's right.

  • And where did you make your best friends?

  • They come from a couple different areas

  • and stages of life, I guess.

  • From high school and college, there's a couple of people

  • that are even to this day very close friends, actually,

  • my closest friends, I would say.

  • And then I also have some very good friends

  • who I've met through work, so, later in life.

  • And then, just meeting people who are friends of friends,

  • so some kind of connection through a shared friend.

  • And again, that one was later in life.

  • that's a good point.

  • You brought up two potential ways to make friends.

  • First of all, you mentioned school, which I think

  • a lot of us have made a lot of friends in school.

  • The reason is you're seeing the same people over and over

  • every day, that helps build friendships,

  • but you also mentioned work,

  • and I think a lot of people watching this video

  • might be people who live in the United States,

  • work in the United States, but have a hard time

  • taking the co-worker level to a friendship level.

  • What would you say about that?

  • Would you have any advice about how to approach somebody

  • in a more formal situation to turn it into something

  • that has a casual side as well?

  • Yeah, I think it is challenging.

  • I think it's challenging for Americans too.

  • One of the things that I've been thinking about,

  • as we've been preparing, is that it's tempting sometimes

  • to say no to an invitation

  • if you're not feeling the whole way comfortable.

  • Invitations tend to come out of the blue.

  • And a non-native speaker might especially

  • if they're not feeling really confident in their English

  • might especially have a hesitation there.

  • Right, so I think an important thing

  • is to say to yourself right now

  • the next time that I'm approached by somebody at work

  • who says, "Hey, do you want to go to a movie?

  • "Hey, do you want to get a drink after work?

  • "Hey, some of us are gonna go to happy hour on Friday

  • "after work, do you wanna come along?"

  • It might not be somebody that you know very well

  • or again, you might have that instantaneous sort of,

  • "Oh my god, they're all gonna be speaking really quickly,

  • "I'm not gonna feel comfortable."

  • But I think it's really important in those spots

  • to push yourself to say,

  • "Yep, sure, that sounds great, I'd love to."

  • Knowing that at worst, it's gonna be an opportunity

  • to really practice your English with native speakers,

  • and at best, it's gonna be a chance

  • to really connect with people in a way that's beyond work.

  • And if a co-worker has invited you to do something,

  • then I think that's a sign

  • that that's somebody you can feel comfortable with,

  • if you don't understand, saying,

  • "I'm sorry, you're speaking a little too fast.

  • "What did you say?"

  • Or something like that.

  • They've invited you into a more intimate relationship,

  • a less formal relationship, so I think you can feel free

  • to take advantage of that and ask for clarification.

  • Maybe they use an idiom or a phrasal verb you don't know,

  • great opportunity for you to ask.

  • Now, let's flip this around

  • and say no one's asking you at work to do something.

  • What about starting it yourself?

  • I think a great thing that you can look for

  • as you're wanting to connect with more people,

  • whether it's at work or maybe you go to church

  • or you have some sort of religious group

  • that you participate with, if you're looking,

  • any group of people that you're seeing regularly,

  • if you're looking to take it a step further,

  • I think always look for

  • some common interest that you might have.

  • So for example, if at the office you come to realize

  • that your co-worker is really into the Marvel action movies

  • or whatever and you are too, discuss it, talk about it,

  • and then maybe at some point say,

  • "Hey, let's go see the new one", or whatever.

  • Find something that you already have in common

  • and then use that as a way

  • to invite somebody to do something.

  • And also, don't be afraid to ask somebody.

  • It's not unusual in a work environment

  • to see if a co-worker wants to do something outside of work.

  • So, definitely, in America,

  • that's a pretty common thing to happen.

  • So definitely feel free,

  • or even if you're just having a good conversation

  • to just say, "Oh, do you want to meet up after work

  • "for a little bit?

  • "Do you have time?"

  • Or something like that.

  • I think also realizing that somebody has a common interest

  • even at just during that conversation,

  • that means that the person is gonna be really interested

  • in what you have to say.

  • That I think means it's a good time to say to yourself,

  • okay, this person is probably gonna be fine with me saying,

  • "Hey, I didn't quite catch that, can you say that again?"

  • Or even after you've said something

  • that you're not sure is quite right,

  • that kind of a person is a good person to say,

  • "Hey, did I say that right?

  • "I wasn't sure if I said that right."

  • I think making people your conversation partner,

  • it often just takes a little bit of courage in saying,

  • "Hey, did I say that right?

  • "Hey, would you mind just saying that again?

  • "I wasn't quite sure I caught it."

  • Almost always people are really willing to jump in and say,

  • "Oh, actually, yeah, you almost had it right,

  • "but there was this one little part,

  • "let me tell you about it."

  • People love to help.

  • - And they might not correct you if not prompted.

  • - I would say that even stronger,

  • they're likely to not correct you.

  • I think Americans are,

  • I think some cultures would be much more free

  • to jump in and say, "Oh, you said that a little bit off."

  • Thinking back to being in Italy,

  • I feel like Italian culture, it's more kind of out there,

  • and people might say, "Oh you said that a little bit wrong."

  • I think Americans are very reticent to initiate that,

  • but very ready to give you that feedback if you ask for it.

  • That would be my take on it.

  • - And this is reminding me, as we're talking about work,

  • I'm thinking, okay, one of my other students

  • in Rachel's English Academy, Sam, works in Silicon Valley,

  • and he was saying so many of his co-workers,

  • the vast majority were non-native speakers.

  • And so, even though he was interacting with people

  • all throughout the day, and he lives in America,

  • he still felt like he was not immersed in American English,

  • which he really wanted to be

  • because he wanted to get better at it.

  • So this is the same issue that Clarence was having.

  • All of his friends were international students.

  • Where are other places?