Native English Fluency is a Marketable Skill

In the past couple of weeks I have discovered something very useful- being a fluent native speaker (reader-writer) of the English language is a marketable skill in the 21st Century. It turns out that the time that my old English Master spent drumming boring grammar into my thick adolescent skull wasn’t a waste of time after all. Who’d a thunk it?

I have been casting around for freelance writing work for a couple of months now with some success and in my search an interesting fact has turned up. Much of the freelance writing work available at the moment specifies that they are looking for a native speaker of English, preferably from the US or UK, but Australia seems to be totally acceptable so far as well. Interestingly much of this work comes from Asian countries many of which, like India and Bangladesh, that use English as their lingua franca, but the majority of the work comes from China. In an effort to market themselves to the West the Chinese want to mimic it but for some reason they cannot seem to be able to do it themselves- they need the genuine thing to give it polish.

An excellent blog that covered this issue, Learn English or Starve, and delineated several reasons why the Chinese will not attain anything like a native fluency in English (or any other language than Chinese):

“I’ve forgotten how many times I tried to explain the most basic ideas of first and second language acquisition. Children acquire languages when they’re young or, to borrow a linguistic term, are in the middle of their critical period of language acquisition. I never went to class to learn how to speak my own language, I simply acquired it by being immersed in the pre-existing language environment.”http://learnenglishorstarve.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/native-response/. It is the same reason why I can never hope to speak French like a Parisian and it makes perfect sense. And yet China seems hell bent on trying to do just that. LEOS continues with the most sensible thing that I have read on this so far:
“Like I explained in the original article, people still believe in the mad idea that anyone could achieve native fluency just by instruction — and instruction well after early formative years. People like that need to relearn the meaning of the world ‘native.’”http://learnenglishorstarve.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/fluency-respond-race/#comments.

So it would seem that while the vagaries of English grammar continue to elude Asian tongues (and so how much more their pens) that they will continue to require the services of writers like myself that write grammatically correct, practical, common, colloquial, readable English in order to sell themselves to westerners across the world. If they ever figure out how little grammar actually matters to most web writing then I am out of a job but somehow I just don’t see that happening for a while yet.

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About dgmattichakjr

D G Mattichak jr was born in 1963 in Syracuse New York and immigrated to Melbourne Australia with his family in 1972. He was educated in one of Melbourne’s exclusive private schools before studying art at Preston Technical College. D G Mattichak jr has been a student of the occult arts since the early 1980s and has become well known in Australian magickal circles and, in recent years, around the world due to a string of essays on a variety of occult subjects http://www.scribd.com/dmattichak/shelf . He discovered the “key to the order & value of the English alphabet” from Aleister Crowley’s Book of the Law in 1983 and has since used this English Qabalah to unlock the secrets of Thelemite magick. Success in these methods admitted him to the highest levels of attainment in various Hermetic disciplines and until recently he has been passing on his knowledge to private students, many of whom have gone on to become notable occultists in their own right. After almost three decades of study and development D G Mattichak jr has finally been able to distil his knowledge of magick and Thelema into a book- A Comment on the Verses of the Book of the Law, the first in a planned series of books on Hermeticism and Thelemite magick, revealing, for the first time in over a century, the secrets of magick that have been hidden in Crowley’s magnum opus, the Book of the Law. D G Mattichak jr currently lives in Melbourne Australia with his artist wife Michelle and their two cats. He has had a long career as an al a carte chef in Melbourne’s vibrant hospitality scene and now spends his time writing blogs on cooking, writing and, in the guise of Master Ankh af na Khonsu, about magick. He is also one of the founding members of the Mt Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering and regularly contributes to its official website http://mountfranklinannualpagangathering.blogspot.com/ as both an administrator and as an author. D G Mattichak jr’s first book Loot was released in 2009. His books are available through amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=stripbooks&field-keywords=D G Mattichak&x=13&y=20 .
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6 Responses to Native English Fluency is a Marketable Skill

  1. Ed Hurst says:

    It’s bad enough the native speakers aren’t all that fluent. More than once, though, I’ve volunteered to help clean up a page or two on some Open Source website written by someone who didn’t quite seem to have English writing under control. Apparently writing good English is considered on a par with writing code.

    • This is a good one, Ed, and it hits right on the mark. I’m in a losing battle to get people (mostly people in Asia) to realise that ‘native’ does not necessarily mean ‘fluent.’ And then they come back at me with the question, “What do you mean by ‘not necessarily’? Life is too short to go through explaining that, I reckon.

  2. Living, as I do, in multi-cultural Australia I come into contact with people from all over the world, most of whom do not speak English as a first language. Most of these people aim at a practical command of English rather than a “native” fluency. In any event “native” fluency depends a great deal on where one is native to. Most Americans (myself included) assume that they are totally fluent in English until they come to another “native” English speaking nation and then they learn that they are only fluent in their own dialect of English.
    The lack of basic grammar skills has to be down to the mass production style of education that is meted out to kids now- just enough literacy and numeracy to fill out forms or to push the “any” key at the appropriate moment, but not enough to acquire a dangerous amount of self education.

    • Most Americans (myself included) assume that they are totally fluent in English until they come to another “native” English speaking nation and then they learn that they are only fluent in their own dialect of English.

      This has got to be the best ever wakeup call to people learning a language – or indeed about education in general. Sometimes I get the feeling that our generation might just be the last generation to have received any semblance of education there is to be had…

  3. As much as it disheartens me to say it I have to agree Rob. Even my step-son who was educated in the 90s didn’t get the same basic instruction that our generation got.

  4. Guus says:

    It’s unfortunate that I am not a native speaker. While I’ve cleaned up the messes of many a “native” speaker. Well, perhaps a pseudonym it is, then.

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