How to speak International English

We interviewed Rob King, an EF academic, about the world’s common language.

Rob King

50 years ago people learned English to study at Oxford University. Now, Russians learn English to speak to China. More people speak English as a second language than as a first. But when culture goes hand-in-hand with language, is it possible to communicate with people from thousands of cultures with one language?

Is it possible to teach one language for thousands of cultures?

Yes, but it’s complicated.

We asked Rob King, an EF academic who creates lessons for EF English Live.

“In the past, a lessons on ‘how to order in a restaurant’ would teach you how to pay a bill in America and what to tip. Now, we pick up from different places. It’s much more neutral about how you order, how you get someone’s attention. But how do you make a culturally neutral restaurant?”

You can’t. Instead, Rob and his team give more lessons about using English in your own country.

We need to provide lessons for both scenarios. A Sara who’s abroad who needs to order in a restaurant, but also a Sara who works for an international company in her own country. And needs to be able to interact with people there. We’re not going 100% away from ‘what happens when you travel’. A lot more of our content is accessible to people who don’t plan to travel in order to use English.

Rob believes that English “doesn’t belong to its native speakers anymore because English is the common language for the whole world.”

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