Every country has its own culture, holidays and traditions! Americans are very patriotic.
It is important to understand American culture, holidays and traditions if you want to speak English fluently!
If you experience only one holiday in the USA, it should be the 4th of July.
It’s a big deal – it marks the 13 colonies’ independence from Britain.
The 4th is all about fireworks, food (apple pie!) and freedom for many Americans.
This actually influences the way we speak English and communicate — a lot! I want to share some stories and cultural info related to the 4th of July that I think will be really helpful for the way you communicate.
Americans love to believe these stories about our Independence Day, but they are actually not true, according to an article in the Washington Post. (I’ll link to it below)
Independence was not actually declared on July 4th — it was declared on the 2nd, with the declaration signed Aug 2, and the public didn’t even know about it until the following January of 1777.
We are told that independence was “rung in” by a blonde, blue-eyed little boy ringing the liberty bell, but this was just a story created by a 19th century writer.
Americans love to celebrate our freedom, which is central to this holiday and to our culture in general.
This actually really influences our communication, a lot.
We believe in personal freedom, individuality. That influences the way we speak English and communicate with each other, for example, a typical American will believe:
— It is OK to interrupt if you have something important to say
— Being able to make your own decisions is more important than waiting for a group to decide, and it is generally fine if you decide to do something different than the group, for example going to lunch at different places
— We don’t really tolerate having to wait a long time for people to make up their minds (your right to take your time is infringing on my right to do what I want, right now)
— We value our personal space a lot
— We are not known for having a lot of patience because we value being able to do whatever we want, so we don’t like long pauses and tend to fill all silence with talking
— We really value self-reliance, so asking for help is not comfortable for many of us
— If we feel someone is infringing on our freedom, we can get very offended
So what can you learn from this, and how can you use this to your advantage?
— Make sure you are assertive, and also interrupt if you have something to say, use interjections like “I think…” “Well,…” “How about…” “I have something to say…”
— If you need time to make a decision, say “I need to think about it”
— Be aware of personal space, observe others and don’t get too close (especially nowadays!)
— If you want help, you have to ask for it. People will not always offer to help, but it doesn’t mean they don’t want to.
— If you want to tell an American they can’t do something, it’s better to tell them the reason so they understand why they do not have this “freedom” anymore.
Now you know some tricks and tips based on the 4th of July celebrations to help you communicate in English, especially with Americans!