8 everyday things which are harder to do in your second language

By Beyondo, 26. Jan 2023

How many languages do you speak? Do you speak only English or are you multilingual and make daily use of your language skills?

Or do you speak Swedish with your international colleagues? Have you ever thought of how the way you speak to someone else is received by others? Especially if you speak in your native language with someone who has that language as their second or third language.

Have you thought about speaking more clearly so other people will understand you better? Our partner for teaching English, Shelley Purchon, trains English speakers to unlock their English, but these tips are valid no matter what language you speak.

This is how you can learn to speak clearly to have your audience feel more included.

Here she has shared free 
#tips by English Unlocked to help fluent language speakers communicate more inclusively and to be an ally to people whose language skills are less developed.

Here goes. I find that even if a person has learned English to quite a high level it can be harder for them to-

1. Interrupt. (So please make more space for your conversation partner to do so if English isn't their first language.)

2. Know which words sound respectful and polite and which are curt, vulgar or inappropriate. (So if they sound rude don't automatically assume that was their intention.)

3. Know whether you are joking or being serious. (So please spare them your deadpan delivery and your sarcasm.)

4. Represent their whole self, their personality, their strengths, and their quirks. (So please refrain from filling in the blanks using stereotypes you have inherited. Their inner thoughts and background could be even richer and more interesting than your own.)

5. Join in with a group conversation (so please keep part of your attention on how the conversation sounds to their ears and offer background information when needed.)

6. Speak on the phone (so please let phone conversations be your last resort and take things slowly if a call is unavoidable.)

7. Adjust their register to suit their audience, E.g. how to speak to a child/ a senior citizen/ their boss (so consider offering replacement words if you notice them using inappropriate ones, but not in a context where they would lose face and only if they have expressed a desire to learn from you.)

8. Shine in a job interview (so please adjust your interview technique - we have a free resource to help you do this well, just ask.)

These things are based on Shelley’s personal and professional experience, they are not dogma, so if you disagree with any of them, please say so. She would love to hear your perspective 😊