Language for Nomads

We are pleased to introduce Lauri Iungman, our newest member to the team, who is kick-starting the relaunch of our blog as we transition from Mailfixer to Her first piece offers an intimate introduction to our Lauri.

Living in a foreign country with a foreign language and culture is overwhelming. Communicating effectively and professionally in your second or third language can feel close to impossible – at least initially. Unfortunately, I know this feeling all too well. I moved to Israel from Australia four years ago and I was thrilled I could continue working as a veterinary nurse, which I had done for the seven years prior. There were so much that was foreign moving from Sydney to Tel Aviv, and so it was comforting to know I could spend some of my time doing something familiar.

My Hebrew was mediocre at best - beyond my extreme inhibitions and embarrassment to speak the language. But the veterinary clinic was inundated with Hebrew – interactions with the staff, the patients’ owners and of course all the written materials. So, I found my mediocre Hebrew improving rapidly. Within months, I was more productive and I could communicate well. And yet, despite my years of training and experience, far more than my colleagues, my lack of fluency and strong Australian accent inspired uncertainty among our clients. I would explain how their pets may respond post-surgery, but they almost always got a second opinion from one of my colleagues, who would promptly offer identical information. This happened repeatedly during the four years I worked at the clinic.

No doubt, living and functioning in your second language is a handicap and diminishes your productivity. Despite my frustrations, I am privileged to be a native-English speaker. Thanks to media and technology, English is the universal, dominant language. As a result, I’ve had the benefit of being able to work professionally and be productive.

When I think about it, non-native English speakers don’t often have this privilege. A French student in Sydney or a Chinese hi-tech worker in Silicon Valley - undoubtedly feel this frustration. They face greater obstacles professionally, as it’s hard to communicate effectively. Even if fluent in spoken English, writing in English is challenging, especially business writing or in a professional context. English is not a phonetic language, which causes countless spelling and grammatical mistakes for non-native English speakers, (as well as many native speakers.)

But more than this, like all languages, English has its nuances and translating literally from your native language is simply the wrong approach.

When you speak, you can explain your contention if necessary. But when you write, translating literally using your own resources or Google Translate for instance, the proof is on the paper. There’s no retrieving the words, or deeper explanations; on the contrary, there’s an expectation that if you’re writing in a professional context, your business writing will be professional.

So, if you need an extra boost, there are plenty of productivity tools. Grammarly is great for a quick spelling and grammar check. For an effective and efficient rephrasing of your text, try Mailfixer’s on-demand editing service developed especially for non-native speakers. Mailfixer’s tested and trained editors will rephrase your English and business writing in real time, making your more professional and productive. Today, you can try, rephrasing your non-native English instantly.

By Lauri Iungman