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By Louise Forsyth

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You can simply say: In my country most people have a very different perspective on this. The above sentence is quite neutral as you are not revealing whether you agree with the perspective or not. Most of your fellow students and professors will appreciate it if you do not make racist or sexist statements, and if you at least appear willing to hear another side to the story. It is generally a good idea to avoiding trying to 'convert' someone to your views. And of course, you may find that your fellow students make racist comments about people from your country or are very critical of your government.

E. understand) any signals that the professor might give you to indicate that your allocated time is over: So, are we done? So, does that answer your question? Sorry, but I have to go now. OK, so see you in class tomorrow. In some cases, you might be the one who needs to get away: Sorry to interrupt you Professor Smith, but I've got a class in ten minutes. Would it be OK to continue the discussion next week? Yes, I think I've understood what you are saying. Unfortunately I need to go now because there's a workshop I need to attend.

In your own language you are generally aware of when you are being impolite. You know what little phrases you can use to sound polite. The problem of not knowing such courtesy forms in English is that you might appear abrupt or rude to your interlocutors. A native speaker may be surprised by your tone because in other contexts, for example, when you are describing technical details or in writing papers / letters, you may appear to them to have a strong command of English. The secret is to try and show some agreement with what your interlocutor is saying before you introduce your own point of view.

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