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Salman Sharif


Marketing & Community Manager

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B2B Organizational Trainings and Language Barriers


I know most probably a lot of you guys would say to go for Training in English language but believe me we have been having a really hard time in delivering the training to our employess from different countries especially in China and Germany. People from these two specific countries feel more comfortable if the training is delivered in their native language but we cannot hire a language translator for every country plus the technical training would seaze the opportunity of having a good translator with a background of things like Coding, GUI and other tecnical apsects. What would you suggest a B2B organization like ours to do in this scenario?

One Response

  1. Hello Salman, I have trained
    Hello Salman, I have trained a lot in Germany and China and will pass on my own learnings:
    1. Almost all of the people, regardless of their country of origin, who learn English have a better understanding of the structure and use it themselves at a higher level than many natural English speakers.
    This was researched in a university in the North East where they found the standard of English used by foreign students was higher than that of British born students.
    The conclusion form this which can be seen in practice is that all students who use English as a second language will probably not be having any issues with the language itself.
    It helps to refer to such research to boost the groups confidence.
    2. Check for use of slang or phrases, I had to edit words like shirk and rapport. The editing to use more basic language transforms most sessions for all participants.
    3. If you need interaction give people time to think and allow them to write down ideas and questions first so they are confident about their sentences. Most of the folks I worked with could speak fluently during the coffee breaks but were much more hesitant when speaking in the open group.
    In China specifically the use of post-it notes transformed the interactive e sessions. Once people had written their thoughts or questions they were quite happy to talk it through.
    4. Maybe an obvious one but speak more slowly but not dead slow. You can judge if the speed is right from the reactions in the faces assuming you are face to face.
    5. Send out as much of the material / content as you can before hand and as far ahead as you can. Everyone is encouraged to read through docs/slides and get back with any clarification questions about language and terms used etc. before the training. This helps the more reflective learners as well.
    6. Don not ask or expect individuals to answer without tie to think, most questions get a great answer if you ask people to work in 2’s or 3’s and contribute after a minute or two. This takes more planning but is well worth it.
    Do as much work in groups like this so the participants can work in their own language more of the time which is less sapping and also work together on the English answer.
    7. You may need to “instruct” or direct the group to ask questions. In some Asian cultures it is considered rude or impolite to challenge the teacher so tell them you expect them to ask questions to be compliant and they will be.
    8. A specific aspect from my sessions in Germany is that the groups needed a very clear lineage / research / source of what you are talking about and everyone needs to make their contribution so group work is critical.
    9. I have always learned a bit of local language, good morning, afternoon etc, please and thank you and ask the group to teach me other phrases as we go on so this is a two way street in a limited way and also means I am seen to risk being wrong in my pronunciation which seems to help a lot.

Author Profile Picture
Salman Sharif

Marketing & Community Manager

Read more from Salman Sharif

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