English in native-speaking communities of practice – what does this mean for me when learning Business English? - Part II
Blending with the locals
Speaking like a native speaker means identifying which form of English you wish to learn – is it American English, British English, Australian English or one of the many other forms of English? This is called learning “English as a Foreign Language”.
Do you need to blend in with the locals and mirror your conversation partner’s language in order to build rapport? Grammatical accuracy, vocabulary and idiomatic sayings are some of the areas to concentrate your learning. Accent and other cultural identifiers have to be adopted too. Do you want to sound like a Texan, or someone who uses lot of informal, coded language like a rapper in New York, or do you need to speak with “professional bearing” in order to gain trust and respect, especially when leading people. For people on long-term foreign assignments speaking in a similar manner to your communication partner can help the integration process and make you feel accepted faster.
To sound more like a native speaker:
- Listen carefully to local news, podcasts, YouTube, films and videos for specific pronunciation of words and use of sayings and practice repeating them. If you are very keen, record yourself on your phone and play it back to compare how you sound. Or simply follow a famous person, listen to their accent in different situations and imitate them.
- Become more aware of certain aspects of connected speech found in spoken English such as running consonants and vowels together, dropping letters and shortening words.
- Read local newspapers, blogs and find other sources of information about your new home to develop not only your vocabulary, but also to identify specific cultural features.
- Find a range of interesting forums and form friendships – it’s easy to blog or Skype and gain a deeper understanding of how the locals think.
There are lots of internet resources to try – from websites and apps to tandem training where you offer training in your own language for a second language:
Find a Tandem Partner in your region
Grammar, Vocabulary & Pronunciation
How to speak like a kiwi
Learning a language to native speaker level takes time and effort. Once successful, however, if you live long enough in your new country you might even forget your own language.