[lg policy] What Is a Corporate Language Policy and Why Do You Need One?

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu Jan 4 11:37:07 EST 2018

What Is a Corporate Language Policy and Why Do You Need One?

The world is as small as it’s ever been. More companies are global, with a
presence in multiple countries. Communicating across cultures and languages
is turning into a challenge faced by companies every day. Imagine a small
manufacturing plant in Italy that’s acquired by a German distributor, which
is then bought by a Chinese competitor. Most of the leadership teams speak
English, but it’s not anyone’s first language. Opportunities for
miscommunication are infinite.

You could just choose one language and require that all of your team
members understand it enough to get the job done. It’s true that many other
cultures around the world learn a fair amount of English, but you also have
to consider what kind of message a monolingual policy sends to your team:
It’s a subtle sign that diversity is not part of your company culture.

Legal requirements vary from country to country and may require translation
of safety procedures, for example. But how do you keep track of which
material needs translation into which languages?

A corporate language policy isn’t just about language or what to translate.
The goal is improving communication and meeting corporate objectives. Here
are some ideas to consider as part of a corporate language policy:

*What languages will be used in which settings*? English may work very well
for communication among senior leaders. But if you have to teach a Russian
factory worker how to stop a production line, the material will be much
more accessible in his native Russian, even if he has some English

*Resources to use for intercultural communication.* After you’ve decided
what needs translating and into which languages comes the process of
translating the material. It’s often not feasible to assign this task to
someone internally. A professionally trained linguist is the best option.
Have your in-country team review the completed translation to confirm the
terms used will be familiar to your employees.

*Integration with corporate objectives and other communication policies. *How
you decide what to translate needs to be closely tied to not only your
company’s goals but also your internal and external communications policies
for maximum effectiveness.
Related Tags:

   - Developing Content & Materials
   - Instructional Design

More at lp site.



 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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