Three Simple Tricks to Instantly Boost your English communication skills!


Communication is not just about words: body language, facial expressions, and context also play a big role in helping us convey ideas. However, and especially when communicating across cultures, the clearer your words, the easier you can get your point across. And if you understand the following three things about English grammar, you’ll be able to instantly boost your communication skills in English!


1.     English grammar is linear: Word order as your no.1 priority! 

More often than not, a student of mine will say something that sounds confusing, but as soon as I write it on the white board, I realize that all I need to do in order to make the sentence perfectly clear is to reverse the order of two segments in the sentence. 

Compared with Japanese grammar, English grammar is more linear and functions like a series of drawers, or a decision tree. The order of words is decided in advance, which means that for each new information you give, the listener will form expectations on what follows next. If you do not fulfil these expectations, your risk losing the listener mid-sentence! 

Word order is important in English to convey meaning. And the best way to learn English grammar is reading, as it makes you absorb English grammar!


2.     American culture is low-contest: What is not said… is NOT said!

We tend to talk about English as one entity, but the truth is there are many types of English! For instance, British and American English have differences in pronunciation, grammar, spelling and vocabulary that are intensified by the cultural differences between the two countries.

In the international sphere, British English remains important because it is what non-native speakers usually learn in school. But American English is the norm for business and international communication, and for unsurprising reasons: one, as a result of America’s cultural and economic clout, and second, because as a multi-cultural and diverse country, America has needed a language that is clear despite differences in culture and native tongue.


And so, as far as international communication is concerned, whether we realize it or not, it is American English that is used. And American culture is low-context: it is the speaker’s responsibility to express all his ideas very clearly and to state all of his intentions. As the saying goes, “Say what you mean, and mean what you say”!

For instance, if I am lost in Shinjuku station and want to ask for directions, I can address thestation attendantin Japanese and say, “南口を探しているんですが、” They will immediately understand that I would like them to help me. 


If you translate this to English literally, it becomes “It’s that I am looking for the South Exit, but…” which is rather cryptic. With context, your interlocutor will understand what you want, but this wording in confusing because you have only stated that you are looking for an exit, but you haven’t actually stated what you want. English prefers you to express your thought directly and completely. For instance, it’d be much more natural to say, “Excuse me, where is the South Exit?” 

So our second rule of thumb is, in English you must state your intentions as clearly as possible. Everything that is not said is… well, NOT said!


3.     English grammar is about precision and concision: Shorter is better!

When you write in English, the rule of thumb is, “If you can say it in fewer words, you should!” If there is a way to convey what you want to say with fewer words, then you should use the shorter version. Shorter is better.

If you read English grammar blogs (and if you don’t, that’s quite alright—not everyone can be an English grammar geek like yours truly!), you will see that for native speakers, an excellent command of the English language resides in the ability to find the precise word that perfectly matches what you want to say. English grammarians profoundly dislike vague language and unnecessary words.


For instance, here is a sentence that does not work in English. “I went to see the latest Marvel movie yesterday, and I thought that maybe, couldn’t it kind of be, like, a same type of story than some of the previous movies I have seen, only the story of the main character, I thought it was very interesting.” 

In contrast, the following is very clear. “I went to see the latest Marvel movie yesterday, and while the general plot was trite, the personal story of the main character was captivating.” Note that you don’t even have to state that this is your opinion by saying “I thought”: since you are the one speaking, it is obvious that your words reflect your personal opinion unless otherwise stated!

So our final rule of thumb for communicating in English is, adding words in English usually confuses: shorter if better!


Try to keep in mind these three fundamental rules of English communication, and they will immediately make you easier to understand! Especially when talking with people from other cultures, clarity is important as it reduces the risk of misunderstandings.

Do you want to practice expression in English? Why not join our Negotiations, Presentations & Debates or Self-branding sessions? You will work on real-world situations and get individual feedback!






1.    英文法は線形:語順が第一優先!






2.    アメリカ文化は文脈軽視:言われていないことはズバリ、「言われていない」!




また、国際コミュニケーションに関しては、私たちが実感していようがいまいが事実、使われているのはアメリカ英語です。そしてアメリカ文化は行間を読まない低文脈(低コンテクスト)文化、つまりは、自分の考えをはっきりと表現し意図をもれなく伝えるのは、すべて語り手の責任であるということです。英語のことわざにもあるように、“Say what you mean, and mean what you say”(本当に思っていることだけをはっきり言え、言うことを本気で言え)!


もしこれを文字どおり、英語に直訳すると、“It’s that I am looking for the South Exit, but…”(私は南口を探しています。しかし…)のようになり、何やら謎めいて聞こえます。文脈を伴うことで、聞かれた側はあなたが何を求めているか察するとは思いますが、この言い方では紛らわしく、なぜならあなたは出口を探しているとだけ伝えており、実際に何を求めているかは言ってないからです。英語では、ダイレクトかつ完全な意思表示が好まれます。たとえば、より自然な表現にするなら、このように言えるでしょう。“Excuse me, where is the South Exit?”(すみません、南口はどこですか?)



3.    英文法とはすなわち、的確さと簡潔さ:より短いほどベター!




ではここで、英語ではうまく伝わらない一文の例を挙げてみましょう。“I went to see the latest Marvel movie yesterday, and I thought that maybe, couldn’t it kind of be, like, a same type of story than some of the previous movies I have seen, only the story of the main character, I thought it was very interesting.” (昨日、マーベルの最新作を見に行ったのよ。それで思ったんだけど、たぶん、なんとなくね、ストーリー展開はこれまでのマーベル映画と同じようなタイプだなと。ただメインキャラクターの話だけは、すごく面白いと思った。)

対照的に、次の表現はとても明快です。“I went to see the latest Marvel movie yesterday, and while the general plot was trite, the personal story of the main character was captivating.” 注目したいのは、わざわざ“I thought”などと言うことでこれがあなたの意見だ、と示す必要すらないという点です。というのも、話しているのはまさにあなた自身なのですから、特に説明のない限り、あなたの言葉があなたの個人的な意見を反映しているのは明らかです。




英語での表現をさらに練習したい!というあなたは、CfICのNegotiations, Presentations & Debates or Self-brandingセッションに参加してみてはいかがでしょう?実生活のシチュエーションで取り組み、個別フィードバックを受けられます!