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Multi-language training: the importance behind providing training for all

19 Oct 2020 | Lesson Desk Team3 min read

According to a recent poll, sixty-five percent of employees have indicated that they have experienced a language barrier between themselves and their managers at one stage or another. This highlights the vast amount of important information that can get lost in translation and won’t be able to move down the pipeline, leading to potential workplace obstacles. It is also evident that in our global economy, where individuals are moving across borders for work opportunities or even working remotely on an international scale, that language can be a serious barrier.

However, to ensure that your employees are well equipped in the working industry, and to remain relevant and competitive within the global economy, companies need to find ways to understand the global market to accommodate their diverse employees and provide effective training that caters to each and every one of them. What better way to do this than by implementing training that provides multi-language support functionality?

Language is known to stand at the centre of several cognitive, affective and social factors that shape learning experiences, which can significantly impact the effectiveness of understanding and retention when employees learn in their own language. Research has also indicated that when employees do not speak and fully understand the language of instruction, authentic teaching and learning cannot take place.

For effective training, employees need to be focused on the subject matter and content presented at hand. However, comprehension decreases when learners are required to first translate the information presented into their native language before being able to focus on understanding the content. This lack of comprehension can further affect the quality of work produced by employees and could cloud their understanding of what is expected from them.

General misinterpretation and language barriers in the workplace are shown to lead to decreased productivity, lost revenue, and concerning health and safety training, could even bring about injury or loss of life in high-risk industries such as construction, manufacturing and the medical sector. In fact, a South African study on hospitals has found that language barriers have interfered with working efficiency, created uncertainty about interpretation, caused significant ethical dilemmas and has negatively influenced the attitudes of both patients and staff. This has ultimately decreased the quality of satisfaction of healthcare and led to a number of probable mistakes in treating patients. Therefore, within diverse and multilingual societies, such as South Africa, it is crucial that organisations understand the importance of providing training, policies and other learning processes in their employees’ native languages.

By offering training conducted in one’s own language, a range of advantages are made available for both the employee and the company. This includes increased access to information, improved learning retention and work outcomes, saved time, and an overall healthier socio-cultural environment.

Other positives of providing employees with training taught in their own language include:

Increased safety and decreased costs

It can cost companies great sums of money if employees do not entirely understand how to keep themselves and others safe during safety training. Costs can be incurred by having to pay out workplace injuries and to replace and train new employees. By implementing training that offers multi-language support, companies can increase the safety of their employees and do not need to be concerned about important information getting lost in translation.

Fewer misinterpretations and increased training effectiveness

There are some things that just don’t translate well in other languages. That is why providing training that can effectively train in any language will give employees access to understanding the nuances and important points of the information presented to them. This then further increases training success and confidence in employees when utilising the information learned in their working roles.

Improved engagement

With employee training, companies should aim to reduce cognitive overload as far as possible. Providing employees with learning material that is in their mother tongue allows them to better focus on the actual content and learning objectives rather than struggling with interpretation. This will reduce room for error, improve engagement and furthermore enhance their training experience.

With South Africa having eleven official languages and additional international languages present due to remote and international employees, it is paramount that South African companies, and other global companies, make use of a training platform that can be used to train English-, Xhosa-, French-, Afrikaans-, Zulu- and other multilingual-speaking employees.

Often enough, companies are aware that the need for providing multi-language training exists but have no idea how to get started with addressing the issue or where to find a training platform that can offer this functionality. So, what can companies with a diverse workforce do to enhance their training and training outcomes for each and every employee?

Firstly, companies need to know exactly who they are training and what languages they speak. Being sensitive to and aware of your employees means that organisations are not only respecting their languages but their cultures as well. By keeping this train of thought at the forefront when providing training, companies will create a positive training and working experience for their employees – ultimately boosting engagement and retention.

Next, companies should harness the power of technology that supports multi-language functionality to create a positive training experience for their different language-speaking employees. Lesson Desk enables companies to train a broad demographic of learners, including employees from different backgrounds, levels of technical ability, learning styles and languages. By implementing a training platform like Lesson Desk, employees can train in their native language or any other preferred language.

Finally, having managers capable of speaking everyone’s language in the workplace is known to be a near-impossible task in a diversified place of work. That is why companies should strive to provide supporting materials and policies in various languages for employees to look at after training. This will give employees clarity in understanding industry jargon and key workplace phrases to make them feel comfortable and confident in their working position.

To provide your workforce with high-quality multi-language training today, contact Lesson Desk at learn@lessondesk.com or visit our website for more information on how you can elevate employee training experience.