Jan-Lukas Else

Thoughts of an IT expert

“Native English speakers are the world’s worst communicators”

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English is my second language. My mother language is German, in school I had Latin for a while (but was rather bad at it) and in university I had one semester of Spanish.

Today I came across the following article from BBC Worklife and I have to fully agree with the article: Communicating in English with non-native speakers is usually not a problem. Even if you make a mistake or two in pronunciation and grammar, you can usually understand each other quite well. But if there are native speakers in a conversation, it is often very difficult to follow the conversation completely and sometimes understand only a part.

Practically, I noticed this when I participated in an IndieWebCamp. Without probably noticing it, native speakers use idioms, abbreviations or slang that is difficult or impossible to understand as a non-native speaker. Just as I would use sarcasm or ambiguous words in German, for example.

When trying to communicate in English with a group of people with varying levels of fluency, it’s important to be receptive and adaptable, tuning your ears into a whole range of different ways of using English, Jenkins says.

“People who’ve learned other languages are good at doing that, but native speakers of English generally are monolingual and not very good at tuning in to language variation,” she says.


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