Communication matters – accents don’t

In the international world of business, English is used every day in offices around the world in meetings, confcalls, video conferences, canteens and even after work in a café, bar or restaurant! More often than not there aren’t even native English speakers present. Don’t forget there are only 400 plus million native speakers of English in the world and over 6 billion inhabitants!

But – English is the language needed to communicate successfully in business today.

And the most important word in the sentence above is communicate. This then brings us to 2 very important points all English learners need to remember:

  1. You cannot change the accent of the person you are talking to – but you can learn to manage the conversation/meeting/negotiation, and especially when these are virtual, so as to keep control of the information flow. You do this by constantly using good clarifying and confirming strategies in English that you can learn on any of our courses. These strategies will give you the confidence to focus on the message your interlocutor is trying to communicate and eliminate dangerous – and costly – misunderstandings!
  2. Your ability to communicate successfully to colleagues, clients or suppliers in English is what is important, not your accent. When participants who have problems in communicating in English arrive in Nations, we soon discover that it is rarely as a result of their accent. Pacing (or speed of delivery) and KISS, (simplicity of content) are often the main problems. Bad pronunciation, related to incorrect articulation, is sometimes part of the problem, and then some limited corrective work needs to be done. Learn to love your accent; it is part of who you are – and how better to communicate than by being yourself.

Being yourself – now that’s another interesting aspect of learning English and using English internationally; why being yourself is important for good inter-cultural understanding…

But that’s a subject for my next blog.

Ivan Kearns