When trying to improve our English, we immediately look at native speakers for inspiration. I remember when I was a teenager growing up in France, I was thinking “Wow, English is so cool, Americans are so cool, I love how they talk, I want an American accent to be cool like them..” This fascination creates the excitement, the motivation to work hard. We want to be like them, we want our English to be as good as theirs.
But no matter how hard we try, there will always be a gap between us and native speakers. There will always be expressions we don’t know, some words tricky to pronounce.
When speaking with native speakers, there are two main issues that we face.
Native speakers speak fluently, using broad vocabulary and expressions
→ Non-native speakers feel the pressure to develop their vocabulary and feel never enough
Native speakers tend to speak quickly
→ Non-native speakers feel the pressure to speak as fast as them and therefore lose confidence in their speaking ability
It seems to be like a never-ending quest to be as good as native speakers, a quest full of pressure and lack of self-acceptance. There must be a better way to enjoy communicating in a different language.
How do we, as non-native speakers, overcome these obstacles? How can we be effective in communication with native speakers?
As Veritas, through our experience in business and in personal life, we have come up with a few techniques that have become our core principles.
① Focus on the message you want to convey. The goal of communication is to exchange messages between people. Once you are confident in your message, in what you want to say, only then can you figure out how to say it.
② Use your mouth actively and work on pronunciation to improve clarity of speech, so we can be better understood.
③ Feel confident by keeping your own pace, having a good volume and using eye-contact, you will look confident as well.
④ Use simple, impactful vocabulary that you are comfortable with and speak concisely to keep your confidence. A same message can be said in 5 simple words or 20. As non-native speakers, we don’t need to sound cool with 20 words if our message can be said in 5. With fewer words, our message is clearer and therefore, we also become more convincing
By developing and applying these techniques, we can surely succeed in our communication with native speakers.
Jessica was born and raised in France. Ever since she was a young girl, English has been a passion for her. Along with her personal studies, she went to live in the US for a year as a Rotary exchange student and later moved to the UK, where she spent 5 years. There, she worked in the film industry and on the side built and ran an ice cream business with her former partner. It was during that time in Britain that she started to develop a passion for personal development and coaching. Wanting to follow her passion, she decided to quit her life in the UK and returned to France where she would discover about the rich culture that Japan has to offer thanks to her little brother. She once again decided to follow this new passion and came to Japan on a Working Holiday. There, she discovered Veritas, which not only helped her develop her coaching skills but also share her passion for the English language with Japanese Natives. Now happily settled and married in Japan, and through her career at Veritas, Jessica hopes to grow as a coach and business person while helping to inspire and guide others on their journey to self-development and global leadership.