Manage episode 217338268 series 6016
Did you know that most of the conversations in English happening right now are between two non-native speakers? There’s a German doing business in Malaysia, and a Russian talking on the phone with a Korean, and a Brazilian visiting Spain. And they’re most likely using English to communicate with each other.
But English is not a simple language. For one thing, it has more words and idioms than other languages. For another thing, there are many different varieties of English. So the English you hear in Singapore or Miami or London can sound quite different. Given this situation – people around the world using a difficult language at different levels – it’s really important to be able to communicate clearly.
Let’s start with pronunciation. Of course, not everyone will, or should, speak exactly the same. Perfect pronunciation doesn’t exist, since there are so many different accents. So being clear isn’t so much about pronunciation as it is about enunciation. Enunciation simply means pronouncing things clearly and carefully.
Two other things that impact pronunciation are speed and volume. When we’re uncomfortable or nervous, we tend to speed up and speak more softly. But speaking quickly and quietly can damage our pronunciation. Instead, slow down a bit and speak a bit more loudly. This will add clarity to your speech.
Clarity is also affected by the words we choose. The important thing here is to keep it simple. When you’re giving someone instructions on the phone, or making an important point in a presentation, it’s not the time to impress people with your vocabulary. Stick to expressions you know people will understand. That means you should avoid using too much slang and too many idioms.
When it comes to word choice, there’s another thing to be careful with: acronyms and abbreviations. You might use “TBH” quite often, but not everyone knows that it means “to be honest.” You don’t have to use these abbreviations to get your point across. And you’ve probably been confused – and frustrated – when people use abbreviations that are common in their line of work but are not common knowledge.
As we’ve seen, communicating clearly in English might mean we have to adapt what we say and how we say it, depending on the audience. It’s always a good idea to speak up and to speak clearly. And if you want to make sure everyone understands, it’s wise to use simple and clear words, while avoiding slang, idioms, and abbreviations.
Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
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