GoingFar Interviews: Brigid Farrell, Director at AllTalk Training

Brigid Farrell, Director at All Talk Training

As an English trainer first and foremost, I know that communication can be made easy by making just a few changes when communicating with somebody from a different cultural background.

So, for many years, I thought that there must be something more we can do about these communication issues. I also began to understand the effect of being a non-native English speaker in a workplace with mostly native English-speaking colleagues. Our trainees would constantly say that they don’t feel confident enough to speak up or, when they do, they feel that nobody takes their ideas seriously. Many also feel like they have a different personality in English because they’re nervous or unsure about the cultural norms. I can also personally relate to a lot of this drawing from my time living and working in Germany and Spain. And again, I was prompted to consider what we can do to help in this case.

All of the participants in this programme are highly qualified and have vast experience in their areas of expertise, but it is difficult for them to overcome language and culture barriers (among other barriers) to land a job in their area of expertise.

This is such rewarding work because I can see the impact of it on the participants quickly, and I can see that it is also beneficial for our society. When you bring awareness to the difficulties that migrants face, it spreads out into wider society.

Many people, through no fault of their own, are simply not aware that certain behaviours, policies and communication can exclude others. There is a lack of speaking openly about any issues that arise; people are afraid to address these topics.

Communication is how we relate to our colleagues and managers. There are always at least two people involved in any type of exchange. When it comes to native English speakers communicating with non-native speakers, often a lot more is expected of the non-native speaker than of the native. IN reality, both sides have a responsibility to make sure that the communication is as smooth and successful as possible.

One of the main parts of our training for non-native speakers does not necessarily focus on the language alone e.g. grammar and vocabulary, but on how to navigate the cultural differences in communication styles and how to gain confidence in communicating in English.

So, what I’d say to immigrants is to be open about the problem, don’t be afraid to ask for help or support. If you don’t understand a word or a sentence, get comfortable asking, “can you say it differently?” or “what does that word mean?”. You can also openly ask about and discuss cultural differences that you notice. By being open about your problems and sharing your culture, you help to open this conversation in your workplace. This can only lead to good things!

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GoingFar Ireland

GoingFar Ireland

An initiative to support, inform and inspire migrant professionals in Ireland.