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Nov. 15, 2021

Why are "International English" skills important? with Friederike Sell | Ep. #5

Hedvig speaks with Friederike Sell about “International English”, a.k.a. English as a lingua Franca, how to include people with different levels of fluency, and how this can inform our own language learning.


Further questions for you to consider:

  • We discuss specific actions that help successful communication using lingua francas. A few of the ones mentioned are enunciating clearly, looking to check if someone has understood you, and paraphrasing or repeating what you’ve said using different words (see what I did there?). Which of these skills do you think you are already good at? Are there any other skills you think help? Which ones might you wish to improve?
  • Do you think you are good at “internationalising” your own language? How might you work to improve this?
  • Consider any specific past experiences where an apology or a question maybe didn’t come across in the right tone or the way it was intended. Was it a “language barrier” situation, or did it involve speakers of the same language? What does this say about the language(s) or people involved?
  • Thinking about a time when you’ve been using a lingua franca to speak with someone, when have you been the “more native” speaker? When have you been the “less native” or “non-native” speaker? How do the two situations compare: Practically - What were you more/less able to do? - and emotionally - How did you feel?

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Friederike Sell Profile Photo

Friederike Sell

Friederike is a London-based doctoral researcher in Applied English Linguistics at the University of Bonn, working on cognitive aspects of foreign language use. She also does freelance work contributing to different foreign language learning experiences. There’s a long-standing joke in her family that she’s obsessed with fairness, which might in part explain the other strand of her work: how English is used in international organisations and how to make it inclusive for workers who use it as a second language.

As a passionate linguist and a staunch advocate of multilingualism, she never gets tired of talking about how language use affects human interactions in more ways than we’re usually aware of.