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Training learners from outside UK


I am about to start training delegates from India for whom english is a foreign language. I will obviously need to be aware of the words I use and take extra care the training is being understood. Has anyone any tips to support the learning?

Peter McOnie

6 Responses

  1. be prepared for some interpretation of the phrase “English as a
    Notwithstanding the assurances to the contrary you may find that some of your delegates are very fluent in idiomatic English and others are at a very basic level.
    Assuming that the grasp of conversations English is not role-critical (which may be a dangerous assumption on my part) be prepared to have to use the fluent as translators for the less fluent; this means a 30 minute presentation can take an hour!

    Try also to be aware of cultural/national/cost-of-living differences if your delegates are training to interact with customers in the UK/US


  2. Delegates from India
    1. Get a copy of one of the main Indian daily newspapers. You will find a richness of language and vocabulary that may have you reaching for your thesaurus.

    2. If delegates are senior enough to be sent overseas for training, they will have excellent English. Your challenge will be to listen, and tune your ears in to their accents.

    3. Even fairly senior people may be on low incomes compared to you. Be sensitive about costs, particularly in a social environment.

    4. As a wide generalisation, though true, Indians love to talk. They delight in the richness of language. (read the newspaper) Beware control of airtime for delegates.

    5. There is sometimes (depending on the organisation they work for ) a tendency for the juniors to defer to the seniors and not speak up or contradict in their presence. If you have a mixed seniority group, watch for it and encourage the quiet ones to speak.

    6. Listening as a skill is more of a challenge. when you give instructions etc, do check understanding (not of your language but as to whether they really listened to what you said).

    As a general comment to your post: For the vast majority of working people in INDIA, English IS NOT a foreign language.


  3. I trained out in India
    I was out in Mumbai for a week in March training Indian pension administrators.
    One thing to expect firstly is their thirst for knowledge, ALL of them want to learn and develop.
    One cultural difference to be aware of is alot of them are vegetarian and don’t eat anything with egg in – I found out when I bought them all cakes !
    I did find that sometimes they will revert back to their own language ( Hindi in my case ) when discussing things as a group but we made a bit of a joke about this and we had a deal – they talk in Hindi, I talk in French – they soon caught onto this.
    To be honest their grasp of the english language was better than mine !
    Enjoy the training !

  4. Pointers…..
    Dear Peter,
    Iam a trainer based in India.Let me assure you that all your fears are unfounded. People in India are educated and their knowledge of english is very good.What I assume from your request is that in all probability a big corporate house has tied up with you or your firm for trainig their staff. When they are willing to spend the big bucks, then obviously they do not intend the lower mangement or staff to be trained by you. Hence the senior management in most corporates in India are highly qualified and their speaking and understanding power of english is very good.
    But a few pointers for you :
    do find out which part of India will you be coming to so that you can be mentally prepared for the climatic conditions prevalent there at the time of the training.
    Secondly familiarise yourself with the basic hindi lingo whic will help you brak the cultural barriers, if any.
    Also, familiarise yourself with the top bollywood names along with some popular movies(hindi and english) with which the participants can relate so as to make your training interesting as well as fuitful.

    wishing you all the luck for your forthcoming trainings,


  5. Have you contacted LSC?
    As the people you will be training don’t have English as their first language, you might want to contact the Learning Skills Council who run the ESOL courses (English for Speakers of Other Languages). They might have some useful tips on how to approach your training since they, or their providers, are used to dealing with people from other countries. I’d be interested to know how you get on. Hope this helps. Susan

  6. Language not a barrier
    Hi Peter

    I trained in Mumbai last year – what a fantastic experience. I had no problems with language, but I’ll give you a piece of advice: make sure you have plenty of extension activities! The group that I worked with completed exercises in a fraction of the normal time! I detected a competitive edge amongst the group and, in a city with population of 13 million, it’s unsurprising that people will look for ways to ‘stand out’ from their colleagues!!
    Have fun and soak up the experience – take a trip to Santa Cruz if you get a chance…what an incredible place!


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