How to Successfully Communicate as a
Non-Native English Speaker
It is vital for a non-native speaker to successfully communicate in English. It is key to doing well in the workplace and to building a rewarding social life. Here are five tips to successfully communicate in your everyday conversation and interactions.
1. Listen, Listen, Listen
Practice active and engaged listening. Keep your focus on the speaker and stay attentive to what they say. Maintain eye contact and encourage them to continue, by nodding or saying things like “yes” or “mm-hmm.” Avoid interrupting them, as well as distractions — including your phone!
2. Be Aware of Your Body Language
Maintain good posture. Be careful not to slouch, and avoid crossing your arms or legs. Your facial expression should match the topic of conversation: for example, concerned, if discussing a problem, and amused, if discussing something entertaining or funny.
3. Play Fair
Aim for a balanced conversation in which each person has an opportunity to talk, and each has an opportunity to listen. As a non-native speaker you may find yourself giving one-word or very short replies. Take a moment and put together an answer with more information. But avoid talking too much. If you find yourself doing that, ask a few open-ended questions and give the other person a chance to speak.
4. How Do You as a Non-Native Speaker Sound to Others?
How you sound affects how others listen to you. It is important as a non-native speaker to avoid mumbling, or speaking too softly or loudly. Say your words clearly, and try not to use too many fillers, such as “like” or “um.” Consider accent reduction training if you have difficulty with English intonation or pronunciation.
5. Maintain a Positive Attitude
Stay positive! Pay attention to the person you’re speaking to, and make an effort to comment on the positive, rather than the negative. As a non-native speaker, it is always important to be gracious and considerate. Accept that others may have a different point of view and avoid trying to impose your views on others.
Remember to smile. Smiling helps you appear approachable and trustworthy — and it’s good for your health! Smiling has been shown to help our bodies reduce cortisol levels and release endorphins, which can help lower stress, increase endurance, and strengthen the immune system.