Getting the message across

Professional interpreters and other forms of language assistance may not always be available when required. Hence it is important for workers to learn other methods of communicating.

Sending a clear and simple message

It is important to keep messages simple and clear. You can achieve this by the following means:

  • Keep the message concise by speaking in plain English.
  • When giving instructions, articulate in simple and clear steps.
  • Use normal voice tone and speed.
  • Check if the client or co-worker understands by asking them to repeat the key points in their own words.
  • Provide simple written information as backup for clients.
  • Avoid using ‘foreigner talk’ or broken English.
  • Avoid using complex questions, for example, tag questions such as ’You did not like that orange juice, did you?’. Instead, ask ‘Did you like that orange juice?’
  • Avoid using jargon or expressions that may cause confusion.

Use of body language and demonstration

Although body language can be confusing, effective use of body language will aid your communicating skills.  Some common strategies include:

  • performing an eating action to ask people if they are hungry
  • practical demonstrations to show people how to use equipment.

Use of written and translated materials

It is always helpful to back up your information by using simple written materials. In doing so, bear in mind the following:

  • Find out the English literacy level of CALD clients and co-workers and provide appropriate information accordingly.
  • Look for translated material for clients. However, for co-workers, translations are usually not necessary as their English ability would be at a proficient level.

Effective use of signage and images

You could also use other methods to help get the message across:

  • Use international signage and symbols to pass on information
  • Hand draw symbols to explain what you mean, e.g. a house to represent ‘home’, or hands on a clock face to indicate a specific time.

Workplace activity

Workplace signage and symbols

Section 3 activities (Word Document 59KB)

Last modified: Thursday, 3 November 2016, 1:57 PM