Are Native English-Speakers Effective Communicators?


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I came across an article published back in October 2016 that discussed how native-English speakers are the “worst communicators”. It’s definitely an interesting read.

How well do you communicate?

To quote:

“A lot of native speakers are happy that English has become the world’s global language. They feel they don’t have to spend time learning another language,” says Chong. “But… often you have a boardroom full of people from different countries communicating in English and all understanding each other and then suddenly the American or Brit walks into the room and nobody can understand them.”

Can you speak a foreign language?

I have met a number of foreign residents here in Korea who have not bothered to learn Korean, or at least haven’t learned beyond the very basic expressions. I also have Korean friends who get confused by some English idioms or certain words within a context.

Fremdsprachen Sprechblasen, französisch, englisch, sprachen

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The article also goes on to say how non-native English speakers tend to use simpler vocabulary and sentences. They want to effectively communicate and may leave nuance out of communication, just taking most everything at face value. Another thing this article brought up was how some words or abbreviations mean different things in different English-speaking countries. Some countries use different words altogether for an item. For example, UK and US English use different words for things like diapers, strollers, candy, car hood, and car trunk (among other things).

I’d like to share the last part of the article with you. It says how simpler communication is often more effective, and I agree.  People can get wordy when trying to explain something to a non-native speaker, which confuses them.


“You need to be short, clear and direct and you need to simplify” – Rob Steggles


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.

I highly recommend reading this article, and thinking about how effectively you communicate to both native English speakers, and non-native English speakers.


Filed under Communication, News Article, Teaching

2 responses to “Are Native English-Speakers Effective Communicators?

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