Epistemic status: personal opinion, based on anecdotical evidences and my gut feelings as an expat among native speaker EAs
A large majority of EAs are native English speakers. Additionally, there is a significant portion of EAs from countries, such as Northern European countries, where English is well-taught or serves as a second language, such as India. However, there is also a small but significant minority of individuals like myself. In my country (Italy), the education system has neglected the teaching of English, particularly for those from lower-class backgrounds and who attended public schools of questionable quality. As a result, I had to teach myself English from scratch at the age of 22, and according to what I've been told, I have achieved decent results.
In the past year, I spent half of my time in London, primarily interacting with other EAs. I have noticed that native English speakers often pay little attention to the varying levels of language proficiency, speaking extremely quickly about already complex topics, and frequently using metaphors, analogies, cultural references, and technical terms. This is not something that occurs when I communicate with other non-native or expat individuals. And it is frustrating.
Those who know me personally are aware that in my native language, I am a highly confident and fast speaker who probably talks too much, especially considering my job involves public and social media outreach about rationality. However, when I have to interact with EAs in real life, I sometimes feel stupid and become shy (which is unusual for someone who is a 95th percentile extrovert on the Big Five scale). I often just nod as if I understand what is being said because I fear that by asking "Can you repeat that, please?" I will be perceived as stupid and slow in a community that values time, effectiveness, high-value actions, and reason. I understand that this is mainly my own issue, and I am working on improving my language skills, but I think that something might be done on the other side too.
So, do we want to be more inclusive? Let's start with the little things, such as our day-to-day interactions. Here are some tips, based on my own experience, that I can give you if you are a native speaker and are interacting with a non-native speaker:
- Try to be mindful and slow down the pace of your speaking
- Avoid using too many metaphors, analogies and extremely technical words when they are not needed
- Be aware and try to control the voice inside of your head (which I am highly confident is there even if you don't want to admit it) that says "ugh, this person who clearly isn't understanding me seems slow and stupid. I don't want to waste my time with them"
- Reduce references to your country's politics, pop culture, cultural conversations and inside jokes to a bare minimum.
- Don't say "you're doing great! You're English is super good man" if I tell you that I am struggling with the language and if you don't mean it. Actually, don't say it at all. Even if it comes from a genuine and well-intended instinct, it might sound extremely condescending, like the teacher who says to a struggling student's parent "he's so sweet. I know he will do great things!"
- Instead, try to actually help me by applying these insights
The list is obviously incomplete, so any additions or corrections would be much appreciated.
Do we really need to use IT jargon every two sentences to express easy concepts?
Source: more than a couple of occasions in which I was super excited by the conversation but I was struggling to understand and the other person stopped talking with me.
I don't know (and, really, I don't want or need to know) about your political party system, the culture war inside your universities and the movies which you're parent's made you watch when you were a child.