The Big Picture

Myth Busting: Non-native English Speakers Often Get Lost in Translation

Lois Shuttleworth
23rd November 2021
 < 1 min read

Given how small the world has become and how interconnected we all are, it has become more common that teams are culturally diverse and English is not always their first language.

Some people may feel that semantics (the meaning of words and phrases in a particular context) can be a barrier to effective communication. There may be a worry that working with people whose English might not be as fluent as yours can lead to issues when the meaning  ‘gets lost in translation.’


The myth is broken

Semantics is part of all language development. Non-native English speakers are able to interpret meanings of words and phrases just as well as native English speakers, particularly when English is learned from a young age, as is the case in many countries today. Therefore it is not true to say that communication with non-native English speakers often gets lost in translation.

  • Many western countries (like Australia and the UK) are already multi-cultural and have large non-native English speaking populations. This proves the point that communicating with non-native speakers is neither uncommon nor difficult.
  • Good English language skills are a prerequisite for the global village workplace we live in today.
  • In breaking this myth however it is true that some phrases including slang can be confusing at first for people from other cultural backgrounds. The great thing about asking for further clarification is that we learn from each other by sharing what is unique to our culture and vice versa. 


Sharesource’s remote teams

In the countries where we source our talent, English is widely spoken in homes and is often the language of instruction for children in schools. We also pride ourselves on our cultural diversity and foster understanding and collaboration between our different hubs and with our partners directly. Many of our members have experience working with international businesses. We provide ongoing training (including the likes of Business English Communication,) personalised one on one coaching, intercultural huddles, games and parties to ensure nothing ever gets ‘lost in translation!’

But don’t take our word for this as nothing speaks louder than the first-hand experience of one of our partners. Rob King from Integration Kings had this to say about his team member Magnolia.

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The talent you are looking for can really come from anywhere; however you must also be confident that the business that is helping to build your remote team is ensuring the talent they source is proficient in every area you are seeking, including in English.

Nardene Cunningham Business Development Manager


Is this one of the myths that are stopping you from looking further to find the best person for your role/s? Maybe it is time to speak with us and see how we can help. You can email Nardene at or click the link below to contact us.

Speak with us!