The international symbol of office-intrigue. Photo by John Brooks/Flickr Creative Commons
In a world filled with international corporations, one skill holds a lot of currency: the ability to speak English. And that skill gives Americans a definite leg up. At least, that’s what you might think. But, Spencer Hazel, a linguist at, explains why native English speakers are sometimes harder to understand than people who learned English in school.
- International office workers understand English as a Second Language speakers better than they understand the native English speakers. In fact, native English speakers sometimes confuse more than they illuminate. (Or elucidate.)
- Most native speakers don’t know they’re confusing people. Instead, they tend to slip into idioms and acronyms without realizing they’re doing so. At the root of the problem: phrases like “back to square one,” “missed the boat,” “ETA,” and “ASAP.”
- The key to getting better at speaking your first language? Learning a second: “If we can become more aware of what it is to use a second language,” explains Hazel, “then we can start understanding how sensitive we have to be with different people we talk to around the world.”
- Curious about your speaking patterns?
- Spencer Hazel writes about
- Lim some kopi while you read .