Communication skills trainer who inspired the world | Sunday Observer
Marianna Pascal:

Communication skills trainer who inspired the world

2 May, 2021

When I was searching for new teaching methods of English language recently, I happened to watch an amazing speech on the YouTube in which Marianna Pascal presents an electrifying speech on how to speak English. The speech titled as Local English or Standard English. It went viral immediately and has been seen by over a million people worldwide. As I got to know, it was the most viewed YouTube video in Malaysia for three consecutive years. The bottom line of her speech is that, “(English) Language belongs to you. It’s not an art to be mastered. It’s just a tool to use to get a result.” She adds, “that tool belongs to you.” Thus, Marianna Pascal tries to establish that if you are going to communicate in English successfully, it is not necessary to worry about the Standard English, but to focus on the person you are talking with , in your local English.

What mesmerised me in the speech was Marianna Pascal’s humorous, dynamic, engaging, animated, interactive style of presentation. It is a fun, action-packed speech that creates lasting change in behaviour and mindset. She uses current, relevant case studies, stories, activities and much participation so that one could speak, write and present better. She also tries to solve problems caused by poor communication, such as misunderstandings and poor customer relations.

After watching the viral video, I naturally pursued information about Marianna Pascal.

Who is she?

Marianna Pascal is a Canadian and a former professional actress, turned communication skills trainer. When she embarked on the language teaching profession after ending her acting career, she started to travel to many parts of the world. Thus, she stopped over in Malaysia in 1995 on her way to teach English in Australia. During this short stay she saw many parents helping the children with their homework at the old bus terminal in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Subsequently, she fell in love with Malaysian values and met her future husband Lee Kong Nian, a Malaysian Chinese through a mutual friend. They got married and settled there. They have been living there for twenty-six long years and have an eighteen-year old daughter, Ry Lee, who studies at a local Chinese school in Johor Bahru.

What does she do in Malaysia?

As Marianna Pascal is a Canadian white woman who speaks English as her native language, with English teaching experience, she started to help people in Malaysia speak better English. She began to hold English language classes and workshops. She had immediate success and became popular because of her attractive teaching methods combined with her performing skills as an actress. Afterwards, she was recruited to many established private companies as a communication skills trainer, and became a well-known TedX Speaker and Global Communications Specialist. What is Tedx? TED is a nonprofit institute devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. It began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Pascal has delivered several TEDx talks on communication in diverse workplaces. Her mantra, “English is not an art to be mastered. It’s a tool to get results,” has made her TEDx’s one of the 90 most viewed worldwide.

In Malaysia, she has been helping Asian professionals to achieve greater success in life by communicating with confidence. And she has increased the confidence of employees of Multinational Corporations throughout South-East Asia in presenting, speaking, handling difficult conversations and writing.

She has been ensuring smooth collaboration and clear communication within organisations. Having helped over 100 companies, her speciality is overcoming the challenges organisations face when employees and other stakeholders come from diverse backgrounds and speak different languages.

Other skills

Pascal was a semi-finalist in the 2019 Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking. She has been awarded the title of CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), an award earned by only 15 per cent of speakers and trainers worldwide for continuous excellence in delivery.

She is also Official Communication Skills Trainer for Miss Malaysia World, and the author of five books, including the bestselling book series, English Fast & Easy: Useful Phrases for Work and Everyday Life. The series has sold over 100,000 copies in Malaysia and Singapore alone and was a #2 bestseller on Borders Bestseller List for Non-fiction.

Before she started her career in the communication field, she had been playing in tele-dramas and films as an actress for 15 years, and had acted with the cast of M*A*S*H, Alfred Hitchcock and the Twilight Zone.


Marianna Pascal has helped thousands of professionals worldwide to overcome the problem of poor confidence when communicating in English. Her popular interactive keynotes highlight misconceptions about using English as a tool for collaboration in a multicultural workplace and 15 million people worldwide have already benefited from her unique approach to communication. Her approach is based on 25 years of helping multi-national organisations throughout Asia and understanding what really matters when it comes to speaking, writing and presenting.

She is the founder of a charity that supplies books to rural Indian communities. Through her Reading Project, she and her husband have collected and donated over 10,000 storybooks to underprivileged children around Johor and Pahang. She has also opened her home to over 50 Asian and Middle Eastern university students.

Marianna Pascal is very popular in Malaysia, not because of her marriage with a Chinese-Malaysian, but because of her deep understanding of local culture, ability to speak Malay and passion for enabling even basic-level English speakers to speak with confidence.

Her belief on bad -communication

She observed over time that the poor -communicating problem with the English language comes not because of a student’s low level of English knowledge, but because of their wrong -attitude towards the language. In fact, some students had a relatively low command of English but could still communicate very effectively.

Pascal believes that speaking a language is not like those exams that many of us had to take in grade school, where a tiny spelling or grammar mistake would result in a big red X from the teacher. In the real world, small errors don’t matter — what matters is whether we’re able to make ourselves understood. In her viral speech, she says, “If you want to speak English like Faisal with that great confidence, here’s the one thing that you can do when you speak. Don’t focus on yourself; focus on the other person and the result you want to achieve.”

Great Inspiration

Certainly, Marianna Pascal is a great inspiration for all the non-native English speakers around the world. As she said in her viral speech, “if we’d listen to every conversation in English on planet Earth right now, we would notice that 96 per cent of those conversations involved non-native English speakers – only 4 per cent of those conversations are native speaker to native speaker. (So) This is not my language anymore, this language belongs to you. It’s not an art to be mastered; it’s just a tool to use to get a result.”