How would you interpret this?

This morning, one of my Taiwanese colleagues came up to me and said that he had a question about English, and then asked me a grammar question. I wasn’t entirely certain at that moment, and I won’t give a definitive answer until I’ve double-checked something, so I said I’d answer within a few minutes. I used Google and answered within a few minutes; I just needed to look at a few examples to ensure that my first instinct was correct. The colleague then asked how I found out the answer. I said I checked on Google to check my instinct with examples. My colleague then said that he has used that before, but that the information is not reliable. I agreed on this point, but I mentioned that certain sources are better than others, and that I can discern what is reliable and what isn’t. (As you know, there is a huge difference between someone’s blog casual blogging and a medical journal. Additionally, my grammar is good, and I more often than not know that I can trust myself without looking elsewhere.) The colleague then said, “I thought you would know because you are a native speaker,” and went about his work.

I was a bit offended by this comment, but I am not sure if my feelings come from ego at needing to double-check my work using an outside source despite being an educated person, or if I was offended because this was a remark made with genuine intent to insult me in a (somewhat) subtle fashion. Similar questions have come up before with the same response.

How would you interpret it?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a teacher checking/consulting before giving an answer. To me, it shows that you really care about your students, and that you take your job seriously. :bravo:

Nothing worse than a teacher bullshitting his/her way through English class. Believe me, students know.

My advice: Ignore idiotic comments like “I thought you would know because you are a native speaker”.

I once had a colleague who similarly asked me in a very condescending why I use the dictionary so often… and added that if I don’t know the meaning of a word, I should just ask him. :fume: He left Taiwan a long time ago, a very disillusioned and unhappy person.

Me? I’m still around, still looking up words and rules, making sure I’m able to explain them clearly. :rainbow:

Don’t worry about it. Taiwanese make comments all the time that Westerners consider rude/socially inappropriate: how much do you make, you look fat, will you check my english for me (to a total stranger), etc. I’d just add it to that list.

much better to give an off the cuff answer that you aren’t sure of than to appear for the briefest moment human …

In cases like this, I’d say that “I believe XYZ, but I want to double-check to find out the exact reason why it’s XYZ, rather than just give you the answer.” That often works, not just for English questions but any sort of questions.

Sounds like a jerk. Let it slide. Next time, tell him “you’re obviously a good enough English speaker to criticize native speakers. Shouldn’t you know the answer already?” or just shrug your shoulders and say “I dunno.” It’s one thing to help someone who wants the help, but if this has happened in the same way before, it seems your colleague is just looking for a way to make you inadequate while getting a free English tutorial.

I look stuff up all the time while I am teaching. Not only to make sure that I have the right answer, but also to role model to my students that there are many places to look if you are not sure about something and that “it’s better to be sure than to b.s.”. Imagine how many misdirected people would get to where they were going if people weren’t more concerned with giving an answer immediately than with being correct after researching or passing them off to someone who might know more than them.

I would interpret it as being snarky since it’s happened more than once when you’ve given your time freely to research an answer that he’s asked you and instead of saying thanks, he gives you that reply.

How about this as an answer next time?

“I think it should be XYZ, but you should really have studied harder in school so that you wouldn’t need to ask a native speaker this kind of trivial question. Please go look it up now to confirm the correct answer and report back to me if you have any questions or contact the boss if you are still unable to do perform your required duties here.”

Or you could always just smile and go about your own business.

I would just let it go.

In Chinese, which is probably the language this guy is thinking in, if not actually speaking, “I thought that…” means just that: that’s what he thought. He was formerly of that opinion, now he is not. It doesn’t necessarily have an undertone of “you idiot” on the end (as it often would in pure English.) I think we suffer from this to some degree as well – well, having dealt with native speakers of Chinese, I don’t expect them to be able to come up with an analytical answer to questions about Chinese, but I do still have this unrealistic expectation that they will know the correct forms – and they don’t, always. Just like us.

Chinese will sometimes say the total opposite of what is meant (“Oh, I’m so sorry to trouble you” to someone who is obviously doing f***-all at his desk and can’t be asked to bring himself around far enough to stamp a piece of paper for you) but I can’t think of too many times that there’s a big sort of additional inferred meaning that isn’t expressed. It does happen but I think not nearly as often as in English. Like when a Chinese guy says to you, “So what are you doing this weekend?” he means, “I’m curious about what you’re doing this weekend, would you tell me for my own edification?” not “Hmmm…would you consider going out with me?”

If the guy is generally an asshole, yes, he could be being sarcastic, but if he’s just a normal guy, I’d go with this theory.

I think it’s just general ignorance. I once had a friend tell me that Chinese doesn’t have grammar rules. If they had to teach Chinese, they’d know. It may have meant to be offensive, but maybe not.