Global English, What Is It?

I am a native English speaker from Australia. I speak Australian English. It can be slightly different from British English or American English. However, I currently live in Malaysia and I know that Malaysian English is quite different again. 

So, which one is most correct? English in Malaysia isn’t a native language, does that mean it’s wrong?

I hear English learners often ask,

“I am trying to learn English, so which one should I learn?”

There is no right or wrong answer to any answer here, but there is actually an easier option they haven’t considered. 

Learn to speak Global English.


So, what is Global English? 

According to John R. Kohl, author of the book Global English: Writing Clear, Translatable Documentation for a Global Market, a document that is written in Global English makes “written texts easier to translate or easier for non-native speakers of English to read and comprehend.”


Standard English refers to the kind of English language used by native speakers. It can be very complex, changing from passive to active voice and it is easy for a non-native speaker to be lost in the complexity.

Consider the following examples: 

“All that glitters is not gold” may be (mis)understood as “If you see something glitter, it cannot be gold” rather than “Not all the things that glitter are gold”


“Everything is not lost” may be (mis)understood as “Nothing is lost” rather than “Some things are lost, not all is lost”

In global English, sentences are short. Word order is consistent and as predictable as possible. The passive voice is avoided. The relationship between the sentence’s subject and its modifiers is explicit. No metaphors or other types of figurative language are used. Everything is literal and logical.

Sounds good right?

Using Global English should make the translation process easier, help you communicate effectively and may help you avoid cultural misunderstandings.

How to Use Global English

The following guidelines operate to accomplish the goal of using the English language in a way that is as unambiguous as possible.

Here is the list of guidelines for effective communication in Global English.

  • Keep it Short and Simple.
  • Avoid Colloquialisms.
  • Use consistent terminology.
  • Use the active voice.
  • Limit pronouns.
  • Avoid words that are both singular and plural.
  • Stay positive.
  • Avoid abbreviations.
  • Be cautious with “helping” or modal verbs.
  • Allow for different spacing.
  • Be direct.
  • Consider cultural differences.

Learning how to use the global English style, whether you’re writing for a native or a non-native speaker, makes communicating clearer, faster and more effective.

If you need to become an effective communicator in English to improve your job performance, there’s no need to be overwhelmed with trying to learn to speak English like a native English speaker. Learning Global English will allow you to understand and respect other people’s cultures and accents, and no less importantly, to be confident in your own culture and accent.

What is needed is only to raise your awareness of these principles and to assist you to be comfortable and confident with the forms of language you can use.

Feel free to send me a message if you would like to discuss improving your communication skills in English.

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