Developing a tour when English isn’t your first language

English for tour guides

Last week, I wrote about the need for good English skills in the tourism and heritage industries and that you don’t need to speak English fluently to get the job done. Instead, I recommended aiming for functional fluency, which is a narrower approach to vocabulary and grammar.

Ideally, you would have a great English trainer (like me 🙂) to help you reach functional fluency, but not everyone has that option.  So, here’s the technique I developed to help you build your confidence giving tours in English.

Start by writing the tour in your own language. Remember: you are telling a … Read the rest

Is fluency really necessary?

I recently read a conference paper about the lack of English language skills among the tour guides at the Aceh Tsunami Museum in Indonesia.  The author concluded that of the thirteen guides tested, only one was considered fluent in that “their speech would be fully acceptable by native speaking standards.”

Of course, being able to speak English is becoming essential within the tourism industry, even more so in a country like Indonesia, where tourism represents 4.1 percent of the country’s GDP. But does one need to be fluent to perform their job well?  Should that be the standard to … Read the rest