How to Deal with a Language Barrier in Business

By simplifying your language, offering corporate language training and developing a respectful working environment, you can overcome any language barrier.

How to Deal with a Language Barrier in Business

Despite the rise of globalization and significant technological innovation, language barriers still post a huge problem for business across the world.

In fact, an estimated 64% of senior business executives believe that these language barriers have prevented them from expanding internationally, whilst 74% believe they’ve suffered financially as a result.

Whilst many businesses have adopted English as an international language, others remain held back by their lack of language skills, especially when based in anglophone countries such as Britain, Canada and the USA. The result is widespread miscommunication, lack of cultural understanding, a decline in business productivity and an inability to expand on an international scale.

The good news is you can break through the language barrier and expand your business internationally in several ways, without breaking your budget or interfering with productivity. Here are some tips.

1. Use clear, simple language

When you want to demonstrate how professional and skilled you are, it can be tempting to use complex language and include industry-specific jargon. However, for the non-native speaker, this habit can make communication in a foreign language much more difficult than it needs to be and potentially lead to all types of misunderstandings.

Avoid this by simply using clear language wherever possible. Use short sentences and avoid using idioms, slang or jargon unless you are 100% sure that the other person will understand you.

Also, avoid using phrasal verbs in English where you can as these can be tricky for non-native English speakers. For example, instead of using the phrasal verb ‘hold on’, choose ‘wait’. Or instead of using ‘run down’ say ‘exhausted.

2. Provide a corporate language learning program

Ensure that you provide language training to your employees as part of their corporate benefits package. Even if they only master a few basic words in the language, they will find it much easier to communicate on all levels. As a result, they’ll become more confident in their abilities, communicate more effectively, become better team players and develop those vital business relationships with international clients.

Whilst you can choose in-house language lessons or offer private college language classes to your employees, a digital language learning platform like Mondly is usually the most effective choice. Ideal for those with busy lifestyles, Mondly provides user-friendly business language lessons in bite-size chunks whenever it’s convenient to the learner as well as industry-specific content to suit your needs.

3. Use visuals and repetition

It’s often easier to demonstrate something visually than if you use words alone, so support what you are saying with pictures, diagrams and printed handouts wherever possible.

This will make it easier for non-native speakers to understand your message, even if they are struggling to understand your presentation. It can also be highly beneficial for native speakers in your team who have a more visual (spatial) style of learning.

4. Show respect

Communicating across a language barrier can be a frustrating process and requires a great deal of patience and understanding. For that reason, ensure that your staff are aware of the challenges they may face when communicating with international clients or non-native speakers of their language and provide the support they need to succeed. Again, this may include corporate language classes or additional training.

You should also foster a respectful and supportive environment that encourages effort and forbids your team from making jokes or mocking an individual if they are struggling to communicate in a language.

As careers website, The Balance says, “Being respected and valued promotes a positive work culture where employees are loyal, fulfilled, and motivated to perform at their best for their company. Those who are not respectful to others are unprofessional and a threat to the health of their company.

5. Hire a translator or interpreter

If communication is difficult or there are no common language skills, hire a translator or interpreter to help overcome the language barrier. This will help ensure your business interaction achieves the desired outcome.

Depending on your location and business objectives, you could also consider offering different language versions of your website, marketing materials, emails and documents to support an international audience.

Before you outsource to a translation or interpreting service, find out if your team is bilingual or have progressed far enough in their language learning journey to assist. Whatever you do, avoid relying on free online translation tools as they often translate words out of context, make mistakes and can lead to additional confusion.

Overcome the language barrier with Mondly for Business

By using clear, jargon-free language, providing language classes, using visuals, and showing respect to your international clients, you can break through the language barrier and achieve your international business objectives.

Give your business the global advantage it deserves by providing corporate language lessons to your team via the award-winning MondlyWORKS platform. Offering on-the-go learning at your confidence and with content tailored for your needs, Mondly provides the ultimate solution to business language learning.

Speak to us today to find out more about our outstanding digital corporate language learning packages.

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