How to Communicate With a Non-English-Speaking Person? 11 Useful Suggestions

Elly Kimreviewed byIryna Andrus / more about Editorial Process8 min
Created: Feb 27, 2023Last updated: Jan 24, 2024
Non English Speaking

Did you know that over a billion people worldwide can speak English? It is indeed an international language. And it means the chances of meeting a non-native English speaker are relatively high. That is why knowing how to communicate with someone, regardless of their fluency level, is necessary. Hence, we’ve decided to create this article. It will provide numerous valuable tips and solutions for communicating with non-English speakers. So please, make yourself comfortable, and we are going to start.

Reasons to Learn How to Communicate With Non-Native-English Speakers?

As we already said, English is an international language. But since learning this language is not a fast process, you can meet people with different fluency levels. And it is totally fine! But occasionally, it can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication, which can cause many unpleasant situations. So, here are several reasons why you should know how to communicate with non-English-speaking people:

  1. It helps you to learn more about different cultures. You can learn a lot about people’s background and culture when you know how to communicate with every person effectively, regardless of their English proficiency. It allows you to broaden your perspective. 
  2. It improves your job prospects. In today’s globalized world, many jobs require people to interact with customers, clients, or colleagues from different countries. Communicating with non-native English speakers can be a valuable skill that can give you a competitive edge in the job market.
  3. It can boost your confidence. Learning to communicate with non-native speakers can be challenging, but it can also be advantageous. Developing this skill increases your confidence and makes you feel more comfortable in various social and professional situations.

The final reason is that you can always communicate with every non-English speaker you meet. So even if it sounds complicated, you can quickly master this skill. And we have some tips and suggestions that will help you with it. 

Everyday Situations When You Can Meet Non-Native English Speakers

Before learning the key rules for communication, let’s find out where we can meet non-English speakers in daily life. Trust us, there are millions of casual situations. Here are some examples:

  1. Workplace. As we said earlier, many companies hire talented people from different countries today. And sometimes, they are not fluent in English. 
  2. Travel. Many people don’t have English as their first language in foreign countries. So you can either learn basic phrases in their mother tongue or find out how to explain your needs in simple terms. 
  3. Schools and universities. Studying abroad is very popular these days. That is why you can meet many people from all over the globe in your classroom. 
  4. Social activities. Sports, hobbies, cultural events, and other social occasions are popular places to meet non-English speakers. 

And, of course, these are only a few examples. Every person you meet may not be fluent in English. It can be your neighbor, a new friend, or even your future husband! So now that you know when and where you can meet them, let’s see what you can do to make your communication as comfortable as possible.


Main rules for talking with any non-English speaker

Since any dialogue usually involves two people, both of them need to communicate effectively with each other. Hence, we’ve listed a few rules for both sides – fluent and non-fluent English speakers. You can see them all below. 

Dos and Don’ts for Fluent Speakers

Sometimes, communicating with someone who doesn’t speak your language well might be difficult. But if you want to feel comfortable during such a conversation, keep in mind things you can do to make it easier for you and your interlocutor. And also, remember that there are a few things that are better to avoid. So here are the main dos and don’ts for proficient English speakers. 


  1. Be patient and empathetic, and remember that the other person might need some time to understand you and respond. 
  2. Be supportive, and try to make your interlocutor feel comfortable talking to you. 
  3. Use non-verbal communication to convey your message.


  1. Don’t overemphasize your words; remember, you are talking to a grown-up person. 
  2. Don’t get frustrated or give up easily. 
  3. Don’t make fun of your interlocutor. 
  4. Don’t make any assumptions about a person’s background or culture. 

Here is the main point: you should always respect the person you speak to. Avoid doing anything that can offend them. Instead, think about how you can help your non-English-speaking interlocutor feel more comfortable and confident.

What To Do If You Are a Non-Native Speaker 

As mentioned, dialogue always involves at least two people. Therefore, if you are not yet fluent in English, it’s important not to rely solely on your conversation partner. Remember that just as you struggle to understand them, they may also have difficulty understanding you. Here are some tips to help you make your contribution to the dialogue. 

  1. Use simple language. Don’t try to use complex terms, especially if you are unsure about their meaning and don’t know how to pronounce them. 
  2. Warn your interlocutor right away. Before the conversation starts, tell the people you are talking to that you are a non-native English speaker and might need more time to explain your thoughts. 
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make mistakes, especially if you don’t understand something. It will help to avoid misunderstandings and communicate more effectively. 
  4. Practice more. Expand your vocabulary, learn new words, and practice speaking and listening. It is the best way to master your conversational skills and feel more confident when talking to natives. 

Remember that it is okay to make mistakes and not be perfect in English, especially if it is not your mother tongue. But also, it is essential to practice and try to become better at it if you want to talk to native speakers. It will simplify communication and make it comfortable and understandable for both sides.

How to Communicate with a Non-English-Speaking Person? Best solutions

Now when you know the main rules for communication with non-natives, it is time to learn some more tips to help you master your conversations. Here is what you can do to make them easier for you and your interlocutor:

  1. Speak slowly and clearly. Remember that some words and accents can be challenging to understand, so try to pronounce the words correctly to avoid misunderstandings. 
  2. Use simple words and forget about slang. During conversations with non-native English speakers, you should use simple words and avoid uncommon slang terms or idioms. 
  3. Ask simple questions. If you need to find out some information, try to make simple questions which require answers “yes” or “no.”
  4. Use online vocabulary. When your interlocutor doesn’t get your point, try to translate some words into their native language to make it easier to understand. 
  5. Listen actively. It can help you better understand your interlocutor’s perspective and improve communication. Ask questions, rephrase or summarize what they said, and avoid interrupting. 

These simple rules are suitable for every conversation with non-fluent speakers. Remember to be patient and empathetic, and don’t judge someone for their English level. Create a safe space for your interlocutor and make them believe it is okay to make mistakes and that you will be happy to help them. And we assure you that the results will pleasantly surprise you. 

Communication is Key: Practice with Promova

Speaking English to non-English speakers might be challenging, especially if you don’t have any experience. That is why it is necessary to seek help from professional tutors who can help you to study language to become more fluent or learn how to communicate with non-natives. And we have excellent news for you! We know the solution that will suit both sides. 

Promova is a modern language-studying platform that has plenty of options to offer. You can choose the ones that suit you best depending on your fluency level, final goals, interests, study preferences, and more. For example, you can start your educational process with personal or group lessons or install a convenient Promova app and practice alone. 

And if your goal is to master communication with non-fluent speakers, you can join our free Conversation Club. Here you can discuss fascinating topics, talk to people from different countries, and practice your listening skills. As you can see, there are many options to select from. Hence, don’t waste any more minutes! Go to the official Promova website and find the perfect solution for you.


Communication with someone who doesn’t speak English as their first language can be challenging. But it’s important to remember that learning to communicate effectively with non-native English speakers can open up many new opportunities and be very beneficial. So we hope this article was helpful. And please share some of your favorite tips in the comments! We will be happy to read them all.



Is it necessary to know how to communicate with non-native speakers?

Yes, it is essential to know how to communicate with non-native speakers. In today’s globalized world, people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds often interact, and speaking is necessary for building relationships, avoiding misunderstandings, and achieving common goals. Learning to communicate with non-fluent speakers can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment and promote greater understanding and cooperation.

When can you face the conversation with non-native speakers?

You can face a conversation with non-native speakers in various situations, such as when visiting foreign countries, working in multicultural environments, or attending international conferences. Non-native speakers may also be your friends, family members, or neighbors. You can even fall in love with someone who is not fluent in English! 

What are the main rules for talking with someone not fluent in English?

The main rules for talking with a person who is not fluent in English include: speaking clearly and slowly, using simple language, being patient and empathetic, using non-verbal communication, avoiding assumptions, encouraging and supporting, and actively listening. These simple yet valuable tips can help create a comfortable and friendly communication environment.

Are there any tips for communication for non-native speakers?

There are several tips for non-native speakers to strengthen their communication skills. It includes practicing regularly, learning commonly used phrases and idioms, expanding vocabulary, seeking language exchange opportunities, listening to English media, using online resources, and not being afraid to make mistakes. By following these tips, non-native speakers can enhance their language proficiency and communicate more effectively with natives.


Nathan WebbFeb 1st, 2024
Ned Aug 1st, 2023
Very informative read!