Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

Want to Learn English? First, Understand your Communication Style

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Sat, Apr 23, 2011 @ 01:08 PM

want to learn englishHow do people communicate in your culture?

Why is it important to know this if you want to learn English? 

If you know your own communication style and your communication challenges, you will be more efficient at learning English.

In this post, we will talk about the communication style that many people use in the United States, how it is different from your own style and how you can use this information to improve your English while you are in the US.

Remember, many people have a combination of different styles.

If you don't follow the "typical" communication style of your culture, that's fine!


Which quote do you agree with?


"Those who talk do not know. Those who do not know talk"- Lao Tzu

"He who converses not, knows nothing"- John Ray, English Proverbs



What are your communication challenges?


  • Do you avoid communicating with people in English when you have the opportunity?
  • If you avoid communicating, do you feel that you are viewed negatively by people in the United States?
  • Is your communication style negatively affecting your success in the US? (career, social life, academics) ?


If you answered yes to any of these questions, keep reading.

We have some advice for you.

You certainly don't need to change your communication style to get better at English but it helps to recognize this cultural value so that your English tutor can help you with your communication challenges in the United States.



What type of communication style is common in the United States?


In the United States, we place a very high value on oral communication.

People who communicate well verbally are seen as being competent, knowledgeable and trustworthy.

We don't use nonverbal communication as much as other cultures do.

Unfortunately, in the US, silence is avoided and people are encouraged not to be shy.



How is this different from your communication style?


In some Asian cultures, there is a high emphasis on nonverbal communication rather than using words to communicate.

Silence is a way of showing respect.

Communication styles can be indirect and the person who talks a lot is not necessarily the one who knows the most.

In contrast, in some Latin American cultures, both verbal and non-verbal communication are important and are good ways to express emotion.



So we know that communication is related to what?


If large group English classes aren't working for you, maybe it's because the class is taught in a way that doesn't work for your cultural communication style or your learning style

You need to find a learning environment where your English tutor understands and respects your style and can create activities which are geared toward the way that you naturally communicate.

At the same time, while you are learning, your tutor should challenge you and encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and practice with native speakers more often.




free video lesson 7 simple secrets to connection in English


source- Min-Sun Kim. (2002) Non-Western perspectives on human communication. London. Sage Publications.
photo credit- katstan

Topics: Advice for English Students, How to Learn English, United States Culture

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