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Tips for Communicating with Non-Native English Speakers: Part 2

More and more companies find themselves working with an international and multicultural population. While this provides great exposure to new ideas and wider viewpoints, it can also open the door to communication gaps as language barriers get in the way. Last week we discussed different techniques for communicating with non-native speakers of English and overcoming the language barrier hurdle. This week we conclude this series with more great tips:

Use Another Word: While speaking slowly and clearly are important, it doesn’t matter how understandable your speech is if your listener has never learned the words you are using. If your listener seems to be unfamiliar with a word, try to use a simpler word that has the same meaning.

Rephrase: Often it is not only the individual words, but the construction of the sentence itself which can be confusing. If your listener looks lost, try repeating your sentence in a different, simpler way. In extreme situations, using gesture may also be helpful.

Avoid Slang and Idioms: As native speakers of English, our daily communication is constantly laced with slang and idioms. Think of all the phrases we use which don’t mean exactly what they say: “Drop me a line,” “On the fence,” “Seeing red,”—the list goes on and on. If your listener looks confused, think about what you just said and use the most literal language possible.

Do you communicate with non-native English speakers in a professional setting? What techniques have you used to make yourself more easily understood? Share your tips in our comments section!

If you have trouble communicating in the workplace, a corporate speech-language pathologist can help! To learn how a professional voice and speech coach can help you to communicate your best, visit us at www.corporatespeechsolutions.com and improve your communication today!