Getting Language Right – helping immigrants settle.

I am indebted once again to my colleague and friend Chris Markiewicz, who has previously guest blogged on these pages. Yesterday, he brought the issue of accuracy in language to my attention in his blog. He suggests that getting one’s message across clearly and unambiguously is more important that doing so with exact spelling and grammar.

This is an interesting concept for someone like me, who tries hard to be precise and correct in the presentation of both my work and blog, regularly using the dictionary and thesaurus to ensure correctness, though as perhaps some of you will have noticed, not always succeeding.

I wonder, what is the impact of language in the UK’s ever increasing diverse society?

The indigenous language in the UK is eclectic mix of dialect and accent, sometimes non-comprehendible when travelling around the country. A couple of years ago I needed a translator when I was working with some young people in Glasgow and had to be very careful in my listening with a client in rural Devon. Today, I was intrigued to hear the news that the Government is to launch a new dictionary for parents who want to know how to decode social media language being used by their children; another addition to our contemporary vernacular.

English as a spoken language is, to say the least, variable and has been further enriched by the many immigrants that have come to the country in past years.

The UK with its ever widening cultural diversity is now getting readySyrian refugees to welcome 20,000 Syrians to our land. Many will come here traumatised by their recent experiences seeking a safe place to live, work and raise their families and, most likely, will only have a few words of English. How are we to best welcome them to our homeland?

We will need to be extra sensitive and particularly tolerant and understanding of these Syrian settlers. They will need more time to communicate successfully and we will need to listen more closely and carefully to hear not only what they say but also to what they mean. We must be conscious of their recent experiences, knowing that it will likely impact on their behaviours and responses, which may well emphasise the cultural differences that exist between us.

Perhaps this also provides for us a template for better general communication – even with people who share the same spoken language. If we created for ourselves a model of communication best practice, it would demand that we become actively aware of other people’s cultural and social difference – and the influences these may have – giving everyone the time they need to get themselves heard and understood. If we able to achieve this, the homes we live in will be happier places, our society more cohesive and our working environments more positive and profitable.

Surely this template is the Equality Edge “Working with Difference” model in practice – understanding individuality and communicating respectfully. The coaching and workshop services of Equality Edge result in the implementation of successful communication models, on personal levels and in the workplace.

About equalityedge

I run Equality Edge and its unique and creative "Working with Difference" project. It supports employers and managers in gaining a competitive and cost saving advantage from meeting equality and diversity best practice obligations. Coaching and workshops are used to deliver organisational, team and leadership development, assisting in improving communication and the understanding of the impact difference has on workplace behaviour.
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2 Responses to Getting Language Right – helping immigrants settle.

  1. Words are critical. As the BBC recently said, “all refugees are migrants but not all migrants are refugees”.

    As for the power of words, compare your own thoughts and feelings to the descriptions:

    “Unmarried mothers” and

    “Single parents”

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