Did you know that for every native English speaker in the world, there are five non-native speakers? About 96% of all conversations in English involve non-native speakers. You could say that this language is an essential tool for navigating today’s world.
That’s why the communication skills trainer Marianne Pascal has trained thousands of Southeast Asians to communicate effectively over its past two decades in Malaysia. Having observed several approaches to speaking in English, Pascal shared how the secrets of fluency in foreign languages can be found in everyday behavior.
Here are some tips from his speech to TEDxPenangRoad.
Using foreign languages as tools
Pascal noticed that many non-native English speakers feel pressured when interacting with native speakers. However, she says skill level shouldn’t be a barrier to getting your message across.
“In schools around the world, English is not taught as if it were a tool to be played with. Students are judged more on accuracy than clarity,” she said. “Instead of viewing a foreign language as an art to be mastered and perfected, view it as a tool you can use to achieve a result.”
Languages are essential tools we use to navigate everyday life. When we begin to see them as such, we are able to shift our perspective and move beyond any fear or insecurity.
“Talk like you’re playing a video game”
Pascal came up with this philosophy after observing a gamer playing a first-person shooter in an internet cafe. Her focus on the goal impressed her and she found herself drawing parallels with communication.
“Even though this guy was terrible, even though his friends were looking at him, there was no embarrassment. There was no feeling of being judged. There was no shyness,” Pascal said. , our fear of making mistakes prevents us from using foreign languages - but the best way to learn is to practice.
In Pascal’s experience, there are two types of communicators. “One has a high level (of skill) but is totally focused on herself and doing things right, and therefore very inefficient. We have another, low level, totally focused on the person she’s talking to, and getting a result – effective And that’s where the difference lies.
Focus on the other person
Non-native speakers can ease the pressure to speak foreign languages by valuing clarity over accuracy. Instead of holding each other to skill levels, focus on getting your message across to the other person in the easiest and most efficient way possible.
“The quality of a person’s communication in English has little to do with their level of English. It has a lot to do with their attitude towards English,” Pascal said. Therefore, let go of your ideas of right and wrong and make connection your priority in communication.
In the expert’s words, “When you speak, don’t focus on yourself. Focus on the other person and the outcome you want to achieve.
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