Non-native speakers talking to each other

In my previous post I mentioned that we’ve been in Brazil traveling with our Korean executives from SK Holding.  Since then we returned to Austin for additional training and then we moved on to Lima, Peru.  In this brief post I just wanted to add to the comments from my previous comments about the use of English as a lingua franca, non-native speakers of English who use English with other non-native speakers.

Sure enough, as soon as we arrived in Lima, once again I saw the Korean executives as they used English, and once again they relaxed, talked more, asked more questions, and specifically mentioned when they didn’t understand things.  It was amazing.

Scholars sometimes talk about ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) and some also add a “B” to create BELF (Business English as a Lingua Franca).  In the case of our Koreans, not only did they share the “E” (English) with the Peruvians, but they also shared the “B” (Business).  That is to say, they were comfortable with their roles professionally (marketing, finance, engineering, etc). What they have in common is the English and the Business.

What they don’t have in common are the intercultural differences.  As a result, once again I was reminded about the importance of learning and training people in the intercultural issues that come up in international business.

PS  If you are interested in BELF, I recommend:

Kankaanranta, Anne & Louhiala-Salminen, Leena. (2010). “English? – Oh, it’s just Work!: A study in BELF users’ perceptions.” English for Specific Purposes 29: 204-209.

PSS The picture was taken at the central plaza in the old downtown.  There was a fear of protests from striking teachers and the policia were hanging out that afternoon as well, nice photo op.

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