20 February 2023

How To Overcome Language Barriers in the Workplace

Global communication and trade have resulted in a substantially more diverse world. While this exposes most of us to new experiences, foods, and people, it can be tough to deal with language and communication obstacles.

The United Kingdom is an immensely varied area to live and work, with people from all over the world making up the country.

As more organisations become multinational, it has become more typical for most people to work with colleagues from different countries. This can occasionally result in humiliating cultural faux pas.

Working with people from other nations can also be difficult when it comes to communicating. While there may be an “official language” of the workplace, miscommunications will occur from time to time.

We’re here to discuss how we can overcome language barriers in the workplace and celebrate cultural differences. Let’s get to it!

What is a language barrier?

Whatever communication methods we utilise, our greatest challenge is our ability (or lack) to grasp what others are saying. 

Every chat, email, report, and memo will be useless if the words are not understood by others. Because there isn’t a clear agreement on what to accomplish or how to do it, you won’t be able to execute ideas well as a team.

Any linguistic limitation that causes confusion or limits comprehension is referred to as a language barrier. A barrier could be national or cultural languages, but it could also be specialised knowledge or speech difficulties.

Whatever the cause of the problem, it is essential to identify and manage linguistic obstacles. When people don’t speak the same language, they must devise strategies to explain their ideas and guarantee everyone is on the same page.

5 ways to overcome language barriers in the workplace

  • Translate all handouts

Taking the time to translate training materials into a variety of languages will assist non-native English speakers in comprehending the proper workplace practises.

These documents will allow your personnel to guarantee that they are all on the same page when it comes to carrying out their responsibilities, which is especially important in situations that include heavy machinery or close contact with humans, such as agriculture, construction, or healthcare.

Furthermore, when it comes to health and safety, developing a training programme that is appropriate for all staff is an excellent option to combat language barriers. This could include using video or visual methods, speaking slowly and simply, encouraging questions, and assessing new employees’ comprehension by having them complete questionnaires.

  • Encourage cultural diversity

Company culture can have a significant effect on the dynamics and work ethic of your staff. 

Because language is so important in culture, requiring employees to take the time to comprehend and acquire phrases, idioms, and social distinctions or similarities can assist break down the cultural barriers that different nationalities and languages can have in developing new professional relationships.

  • Hire a translator

Using the services of an interpreter may be a good alternative for group hirings because you can answer any questions regarding the role and explain or transmit any critical information needed for your new employees to succeed.

Aside from group meetings, interviews, and inductions, employing an interpreter to translate the most significant documents within the office can also be beneficial.

However, it’s important to consider the true cost of translation services, as it can sometimes be much more cost-effective to train key members of the workforce in specialist business languages suitable for internal translation and communication needs.

  • Use simple language

Many of the problems created by language difficulties can be avoided by using basic language. 

If your staff are communicating with people whose native language is not English, they must keep this in mind while creating emails and presentations. This can include urging them to be direct, to the point, and to leave out unnecessary phrases.

  • Provide Language Classes for the Workplace

It may be wise to offer English classes to all of your non-English speaking employees if they choose. This will assist them in thoroughly understanding the organisation’s needs, health and safety protocols, how to perform their work to the best of their ability, and how to communicate with other employees within the business.

As your personnel become more familiar with the language, the likelihood of accident or misinterpretation decreases. 

Although delivering these language courses may be an investment, your employees will be able to grow their abilities and thrive in the professional setting, especially if they see that you are supporting and accommodating their requirements in order for them to perform successfully in their role.

Looking for intensive English courses online?

We can assist you if you seek expert language assistance with your workforce’s business English proficiency. We provide a variety of language services and training methods, ranging from one-on-one coaching to group instruction.

SIMON & SIMON’s business English training is intended to help members of your team improve their English in a professional setting. We cover a wide range of topics in our classes, from basic grammar and vocabulary to more complex business English professional language skills. In addition, we may customise our training to your company’s specific needs and goals.

For more information about our Professional Business Language Courses, please contact us today!

Language barriers in the workplace FAQs

What are language barriers in the workplace?

Any linguistic impediment that causes confusion or restricts comprehension is referred to as a language barrier. National or foreign language may be a barrier, but so may specialised knowledge or speaking issues.

What are examples of language barriers?

Common examples of linguistic obstacles include people from various countries engaging with one another, people from different countries greeting one another differently, and people speaking the same language speaking in distinct dialects. Linguistic barriers are greatly influenced by culture.

What breaks the barriers of language and boundaries?

Conversation that is formal, basic, and easy breaks down language and boundary barriers. Language barriers arise when persons or groups speak different languages or dialects. Dialectical differences can cause communication difficulties, as well as misconceptions and gaps.

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