Mastery of Global English May Boost UK Business’ Overseas Revenue in a post-Brexit era
English is probably still regarded as the main business language in the Western world. However, how well are native English speakers really being understood by other nationalities? There is an argument that everyone in an international environment (business or other) should be speaking ‘Global English’ to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. However, for native speakers this is not as easy as it sounds.
When several non-native English speakers hold a meeting in English there tend not to be many misunderstandings. Participants tend to speak at a moderate pace, enunciate clearly and use formal English. This allows everyone to follow the conversation. If quick speaking, consonant clipping native speakers using a lot of idioms join in, the non-native English speakers are unable to understand.
How can this be improved?
Use of Global English
Use of Global English is rather like learning a second language. Here are eight simple tips
- Speak more slowly than usual and do not speak loudly.
- Pronounce your words clearly and do not drop the final constants.
- Avoid slang and idioms.
- Avoid culturally specific humour.
- Don’t contract words such as I’ve or we’ll – instead use the full form.
- Only put one idea into each sentence or question.
- Use open questions to check understanding.
Adjust your speech to match the listener’s understanding. Look for visual cues to see that they are following you.
In many Asian countries, if you ask your listener if they understand, they will tend to answer, ‘Yes’ even if they are not following what you say as to admit otherwise would be a lose of face. To get feedback on how your English is received by non-native speakers, ask foreign colleagues for feedback on how well your English can be understood.
The whole issue of communication is tied to cultural sensitivity. At Bath Translations, we focus a lot on Asia, particularly Japan and China . The Japanese do their very best to understand our cultural nuances but we often see that native English speakers are often unaware of other countries’ cultural habits.
Without this sensitivity and a focus on clear use of English, businesses may lose out on opportunities. Business people who are not able to communicate with non-native English speakers may not have such good prospects overseas. We believe that it is imperative, in the post-Brexit era, for businesses to work much harder on cultural sensitivity and on training personnel to speak a form of Global English.