Training is communicating, at its most basic. So, if you’re not delivering your agency’s educational material in a language that makes sense, your learners will have trouble understanding. You need to offer multilingual training if you want to address cultural competency, safety, productivity, and compliance. Many public health programs have employees who don’t speak English as a native language, are from another country, or who have goals to reach people who speak another language. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), language barriers are a contributing factor in 25% of job-related accidents. The first step to avoiding miscommunication is by offering your courses in English—and another language like Spanish.
How Multilingual Online Training Works
Offering courses in Spanish or another language can be easier than you think. It’s helpful to understand the parts of training learners in their own language so when you decide to start a translation project, you know what to expect.
Menus, Buttons, Links on the Training Platform
The training platform, such as the LMS, that people use to access the course should display the same language as the course. Language packs provide options for learners who are accessing curriculum in another language. This language pack makes it so that all the menus, buttons, links, and other options are available in other languages on the fly for your students.
You can also create language-specific versions of other pages that don’t relate to the training content. These might be the kinds of pages you’d access in the footer, header, privacy policies, etc.
Curriculum and Course Content
Then there’s the curriculum. Your course curriculum needs to be created in your target language, such as in Spanish. Translating with tools like Google Translate is not enough to host courses in Spanish. Thankfully, you can hire a training company like Talance to translate your course content to your target language.
A full translation by a professional will cover tricky and variable areas, such as technical health terms, acronyms, and also cultural translations.
For example, the term “single-parent child” might not make sense for Arab or Islamic speakers. The closest translation is “a child who has lost a parent” like an orphan, but that’s not the same. A full explanation would talk about how in Western culture it’s possible for someone to have a child without participation from a second parent.
Multilingual Instructors and Facilitators
A multilingual course also needs support staff who can speak Spanish, including a facilitator or instructor, and someone who can offer technical support. This might be the same person, depending on your setup, but these are often handled by different departments or people.
Another important element when choosing multilingual instructors is cultural competency. If you have the opportunity, choosing someone with the same cultural background as your students will likely improve the learning outcome for courses in Spanish and other foreign languages.
Participants and Classroom Structure
When all those elements are in place, you’ll heed to structure your classrooms and cohorts so they make sense.
Mixing a class of English speakers and Spanish speakers will be confusing to the learners. They won’t know what each other is talking about. Keep your cohorts separate if you’re hosting your courses in multiple languages such as English and Spanish. Also, if you use forums, chat rooms, or other discussion elements, the learners should each use the same language.
If you’ve avoided translations in the past, now is the time to start paying attention. Tension among the public and employees is high, and many people are working remotely. Starting with multilingual support can help you avoid potential communication problems and boost collaboration.