A Lesson from the Heart: Keep it Simple


By Ed Rosheim

Effective communication can be a bit of a balancing act. You need to give enough detail to get your point across without overwhelming the person you’re talking to with too much information. This is especially true when you’re talking with employees who speak English as a second language.

Go Grammar-less

They key to communicating in a language that is either not familiar to you or not familiar to your listener is simplicity. It’s like those Valentine’s Day candy hearts with messages like “Call me” or “Be mine.” There’s no room for complex sentence structure on that little piece of candy, and that’s okay – you often don’t need a lot of words to tell someone how you feel. In language training, we call this concept “going grammar-less.” Grammar-less language learning focuses on basic phrases to improve workplace communication and productivity. What it lacks in nuance, it makes up for in relevancy.

Give a Little, Get a Lot

To have effective communication with staff members, vendors, and customers who speak Spanish, for example, it’s important to meet them halfway. Learn some key phrases in their language. Here are a few to get you started:

English Spanish Pronunciation
Welcome! ¡Bienvenidos! (bee-en-vay-nee-dos)
Come in Pase (pah-say)
I’m sorry Lo siento (low / see-en-toe)
Good idea Buena idea (bway-nah / ee-day-uh)

English Training for Your Employees

When you’re able to speak to your Latino employees in their native language, they’ll see your commitment to effective communication. In most cases, they want to learn more English, and sometimes just need some tools and encouragement from you. Look for English training programs that start with simple phrases specific to your industry and move on from there.

Ed Rosheim, M.A., is President of Workplace Languages, a company that specializes in corporate language training, translations and the creation of industry-specific bilingual training products. Ed has been working with organizations for 15 years to improve workplace communication.

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