I am a native Czech speaker and English is my secondary language. I communicate with foreigners including both English and non-English natives. Sometimes, before we meet in person, I let them know I am far from a native and I ask for a bit of understanding with my speaking/listening as long as I still learn the language. They usually reply:
Your English is definitely better than my Czech!
I am not sure how to interpret it. I have encountered people of various Czech language proficiency: Most of them were only able to say "thank you" or "goodbye" in Czech. On the other hand, few of them were quite fluent.
- Likely negative: Does it have a slightly pejorative meaning that "Your English sucks less than my Czech"? Although, it used, a smile
:)after might indicate a joke, tease...
- Rather neutral: Is it just a neutral phrase of politeness meaning "Do not worry, I try my best to understand you"?
- Just a phrase: It has no real hidden meaning and is yet another phrase like "Hey, how are you"?
- Likely positive: Do they want to cheer me up that I surprise them and I am doing really well?