Words are a powerful tool. They can spark social and political progress, tell stories from around the world, and connect people in profound ways. Considering how widely English is spoken, it’s no surprise that many inspirational people choose to deliver their words in English.
Non-native English speakers still use a range of speaking techniques to effectively communicate and make huge positive changes for people. Whether advocating for human rights, championing underserved youth, or fighting against global warming.
These are the non-native English speakers making a difference in 2023, and here’s how their speaking skills are helping.
A disability rights advocate from Ukraine, Yuliia Sachuk is the founder and director of Fight for Right, an NGO protecting people with disabilities during the war in Ukraine.
Yuliia, who has a visual impairment, has been campaigning for 20 years to combat inequality and discrimination and strengthen the community of people with disabilities worldwide. In Ukraine, she has helped evacuate hundreds of people living with disabilities and made sure they receive life-saving care.
Yuliia has participated in the Obama Foundation Europe Leader program. She is one of the youngest women candidates for the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
In her election speech for the committee, she paces her English and uses concise and passionate terminology. expressing that “my disability made me stronger.”
Yuliia integrates assertive statements and encompassing pronouns in her text too, to emphasize the collective responsibility of everyone to act. She says: “we must do our best to improve the quality of life for every person with a disability.”
Her intonation and pitch variation is also impressive, and she stresses words appropriately to enforce their meaning in diverse contexts.
Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Jimmy Pham was raised in Sydney, Australia, where he founded Know One Teach One (KOTO) to help people in Vietnam find employment and start their own businesses.
Today, KOTO provides hospitality training, English language classes, and digital literacy classes to more than one thousand young people in Vietnam.
Jimmy was a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 2009, has been acknowledged as Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and was awarded the POSCO TJ Park Prize – the most prestigious award in South Korea.
Not to mention, Saxton Speaking Bureau ranked Jimmy in its top 40 motivational speakers for two consecutive years.
In his TEDx talk, Jimmy draws on the proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” He shares his story to reinforce his personal connection to youth empowerment. He repeatedly asks the audience to “imagine” different scenarios along the way.
His language is evocative but accessible, and he takes regular pauses to let his words sink in.
He averages a pace of 120-180 words per minute, making him a natural speaker.
On top of that, he blends informal terms with technical ones, showcasing his active vocabulary bank.
Kimiko Hirata is a climate change activist. Her campaigning efforts are responsible for canceling plans to build 13 coal power plants in Japan.
She also launched Kiko Network, an NGO dedicated to stopping climate change, and helped create the Kyoto Protocol – a new legislation to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The total impact of Kimiko’s work is the same as taking 7.5 million cars off the road every 40 years!
Kimiko is the first Japanese woman to win the Goldman Environmental Prize. Last year, she also became the Executive Director of Climate Integrate, a non-profit to conduct research, engagement, and communication to accelerate policy changes and actions.
Kimiko is known for her speech in response to Japan’s 2020 targets, in which she criticizes the government for not setting ambitious enough goals to lower carbon emissions.
She uses bold terminology to instruct government officials rather than plead with them. She says, “We as Japanese [people] are very embarrassed by our government,” and that they have to come back and “make a serious contribution to the negotiation here, to raise ambition, not to discourage it.”
ELSA Speech Analyzer reports that Kimiko has a native level vocabulary range. She uses high-level synonyms and complex sentence constructions.
She also has advanced grammar and applies natural hesitations. Hence, she clearly conveys her points and has a seamless flow to her speech.
Making a difference, one speech at a time
English is a compelling vehicle for change. Yuliia Sachuk, Jimmy Pham, and Kimiko Hirata are just some of the amazing non-native English speakers who let their language skills do the talking (literally) and stimulate action where it’s needed most. In 2023, we’re sure to see their words make even more of a difference.
Looking to make your own inspirational mark on the world in English? Try ELSA Speech Analyzer, our AI-powered conversational English fluency coach. It listens to your speech and provides you with immediate feedback on grammar, pronunciation, and more.