Talking to English teacher Matt Halsdorff about a project to train native English speakers how to communicate better with non-natives. We talk about the reasons why native speakers are often bad at communicating with non-natives, what they should do to fix this and the wider issues relating to this project. Video version available.
Episode Introduction Transcript
Hello listeners and video viewers, how are you doing today?
In this episode you’re going to listen to me in conversation with Matt Halsdorff who is an English teacher with many years of teaching experience, and we’re going to be discussing the question of whether native English speakers are in fact the worst communicators in an international English environment.
Matt is currently working on a project with Christian Saunders from Canguro English. I think the project sounds really interesting and raises a few good questions about how native speakers of English and non-native speakers communicate with each other, what non-natives really struggle with in this language, and whether native speakers can do anything to help.
If you saw my latest video interview with Christian from Canguro English and you watched until the end you might remember us discussing this project briefly. If you remember, Christian mentioned a training course in communication in English – but the twist is that it’s for native speakers – more specifically it is for native English speakers who need to communicate internationally.
Because, It’s not just learners of English who need training in this language. Apparently – It’s native speakers too.
English is a global language, and everyone is using it for business and also for travel purposes. Everyone needs to use this language to communicate successfully so the world can continue spinning.
Everyone uses English, and everyone has to work on the way they use it, in the same way that we all have to work on our email writing and IT skills to make them as efficient and effective as possible.
As a non-native speaker of English, of course you’ve got to work on the entire system – you need vocabulary, you need correct grammar, you need clear pronunciation, fluency, confidence and so on – obviously, that’s what’s involved in trying to use another language.
You learn as you go and try to do your best and you almost certainly feel a great deal of responsibility, pressure, and challenge when communicating in English. You are probably keenly aware of your performance in English and sensitive about any kind of failure in communication and how that might be your fault.
But do native speakers share a similar sense of responsibility?
In fact here are a number of other questions which arise when thinking about this topic.
- Do native English speakers do all they can in international situations to make sure they are understood clearly, just like everyone else does?
- Are native speakers aware of what it is like to operate in a second language?
- Might there be other reasons why native English speakers don’t adapt the way they speak in order to improve shared communication?
- Who is responsible for the success of any act of communication? Just one side, or both?
- Should native speakers adapt their English? Or is it up to the non-natives to do all the heavy lifting in this situation?
- And if native speakers should adapt their English, how should they do it?
- What kind of English should they avoid and what kind is likely to be the most successful?
- And what about other considerations and questions, such as what happens to the English language when it is being adapted in this way?
Well, I am interviewing Matt today in order to discuss these things and find out about this project in general. First we’re just going to take a few minutes to get to know him, and then we’re going to dive into this training project for native speakers, which is called The Travel Adaptor by the way. We’re going to find out about the project, about what native speakers do and say which can be so confusing, how native speakers can facilitate communication with non-natives, and the wider issue of global English and successful international communication.
As well as getting into the specifics of this conversation, you can certainly learn about some of the major obstacles that non-native speakers have when understanding natives.
So there’s plenty to pick up from this. There is a YouTube version too just in case you need to see our faces as well as listen to us.
Let’s get started!
*This is a conversation about language*
Well, that was Matt Halsdorff talking about The Travel Adapter – a training course for native-speakers of English, to help them communicate better globally.
So, what do you think? I’m very keen to read your comments and I am sure you had things popping into your head during this conversation. Why not express them in English here in the comment section?
- Do you have experiences of communicating with native speakers in English? What was it like? Did they adapt their speech? What was difficult?
- Do you think native speakers should adapt their speech when talking to non-natives, or not? Why?
But that’s it for now. Thank you for listening and I will speak to you again soon. I’ve got a little announcement coming in the next few weeks that’s pretty cool, plus the usual free episodes and premium episodes on their way as usual.
Speak to you soon, but for now – goodbye bye bye bye bye bye bye!