But fluency is not something that can be achieved quickly or easily. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/water I call pants pants not "trousers". And at the end of a sentence I call this [.] a "period" not a "full stop". I also call the letter Z "zee" not "zed". There are teachers at my school who are from the UK and there is one teacher from Australia. Both are English speaking countries whose people say and use the English language quite differently from the way I do. I've noticed that both Aussies and Brits use the word "lovely" in a way I almost never would, as in "It was lovely to meet you." On our trip to Ha Long Bay I noticed two instances when Australians used familiar words in an unfamiliar way (to me). "Heaps" was used where I would say "a lot". "All out" was used where I might use "altogether". Such as: "We are going to be in Siem Reap four days all out."
Most of these examples are curious to me and I just smile and think "hmmm interesting". But a common British word actually makes me a little crazy: learnt. This is the past tense of learn in British English. In American English we use "learned" for the past tense of learn. Another one is "maths". The British, and I think Australians also, call math "maths". I guess mathematics does have an "s" at the end but still, I'm used to hearing "math" so "maths" sounds weird to me.
Our language study goes slowly. I'm quite confident that my students have learned more English than I have learned Khmer. :) But then they have lessons 5 days a week and Stephen and I have lessons only once a week. And I think they have a better teacher than we do. (wink) For me, I think writing the script will be my gateway into understanding the language. Khmer clip off the end sounds of their words. At least the Khmer people we've spoken with. We often can't tell if the end sound is a /p/ or a /b/ or /t/ or a /ch/. The formal way to say "hello" is "chome reap soo uh" but the word "reap" is actually spelled with the consonant "baw" similar in sound to "b". It's kind of like solving a puzzle, one of those really hard puzzles where the pieces fit even when they are in the wrong place!
Even though learning Khmer is a challenge, made more difficult by poor materials and poor quality teaching because it's the best there is available at this time, I really want to learn to become proficient in Khmer. I think it's going to take equal parts creative energy and persistence. I'll let you know how that goes. :)