The Effects of Lingua Franca Fluency on the Choice of Communication Media

Main story:

  • It has long been assumed that media-rich communication channels (FTF, video) are more effective and aid team performance.
  • Indeed, research has shown that video and audio chats allow to transmit more information than text-only email.
  • So why would many teams stick with email only and never (or rarely) hold video conferences?
  • Fluency in the working language (English) may play a role.
  • We hypothesize that in teams where at least some of the team members are not fluent in English, the team reverts to email-only communication, as this mode allows more time to process (read) messages and craft replies.
  • Moreover, it could be perceive language fluency, not the actual language fluency that really plays a role.
  • All our GVT members take an objective test of English, but their English fluency is also subjectively evaluated by their team members.
  • We are hypothesize that teams will stick with asynchronous text-only communication if teams subjectively find some of the team members’ English proficiency lacking, even if objective tests of English show sufficient fluency.
    • We may actually find that it may be that Skype does not always help.
    • It could be that, in general, teams would benefit from regular video conferencing, BUT if some of the team members are not fluent in English, it may indeed more beneficial to stick with email only. That is, rich-media communication tools are better for teams where everyone is fluent in English, but lean-media tools may be preferred for teams where some team members are not fluent in English.


Status: In the early stages of development

Lead author: Kerri A Brannen

Collaboration/support: Vas Taras