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Do you suffer from language barriers at work in Thailand?


webfact
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Depending on where your company is headquartered, language barriers can be a major issue for expatriates on international assignments.


Hiring employees who do not have strong skills in speaking the local language, can pose a huge challenge to your company. 


If you need to regularly attend department meetings, it is likely that they will be held in the local Thai language. 


This can not only be frustrating but means you could be missing key facts and information.


Therefore, it is likely that these employees who are unable to speak Thai, may have a longer adjustment period and take more time to increase their productivity.


If the issue is left unaddressed, they could be left feeling isolated both in and outside of the office, increasing the risk of them breaking their contract early or being uninterested in growing with the company beyond their term.


Language barriers can be difficult to transcend, because overcoming them involves the acquisition of a brand-new hard skill—which is no easy feat. 


However, that is not to say it is impossible.


How can I overcome this challenge?


If you are in a country such as Thailand, where English is not a primarily spoken language, but your company’s business language is English, make sure your current employees know that you are someone who does not speak the local language.


Making your local employees aware that there will be someone new on-site who does not speak the local language, will hopefully open them up to the idea of finding common ground and helping you integrate into the local culture.


Ensure that you have employees willing to take you under their wings and help you to adjust.
Finally, as an Expat, consider asking your employee to set up language lessons for you. (Paid for by the company, of course).


Not only speaking some Thai will help you but your Thai employees will be impressed that you made the effort too.


If you have had a similar language issue at work or maybe at home, do let us have your own comments.

 

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9 hours ago, webfact said:

Hiring employees who do not have strong skills in speaking the local language, can pose a huge challenge to your company. 

So why hire them, surely this would all be sorted out at the interview?

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17 hours ago, webfact said:

it is likely that they will be held in the local Thai language

it likely that they will held in the locak english language if you live in britain or in the usa, in dutch if you live in holland, in french if you live in france and so on...

 

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Not only speaking some Thai will help you but your Thai employees will be impressed that you made the effort too.

Why?
 

If I am working in a foreign country, of course I would have made an effort to learn the language or at least start immediately upon the start of my work contract. This is just normal, nobody should be impressed by that at all.

 

But certainly the opposite would be true, if this effort is not made. Nowadays, foreigners speaking Thai is really nothing special any more and there is a multitude of online resources for it.


As it happens, Thai is not all that difficult to master due to really easy grammatical rules (reading and writing are a bit more difficult, but the alphabet is not more than double the western abc).

Edited by jts-khorat
typo
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When I was teaching I constantly had to correct the other foreign teachers, They just didn't seem to know proper American English. When it's cold outside you put on a sweater, a jumper is a disenfranchised expat in Pattaya.

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3 minutes ago, tonray said:

When I was teaching I constantly had to correct the other foreign teachers, They just didn't seem to know proper American English. When it's cold outside you put on a sweater, a jumper is a disenfranchised expat in Pattaya.

In my early days in Thailand I did a good bit of touring in smaller villages, which seemed to involve ending up in quite a few schools... particularly one where the Mrs friend, who was a monk, taught and desperately wanted me to teach some English. I met a lot of their English teachers, who were all very nice and pleasant but exhibited very poor English skills... mostly I felt pronunciation was woeful. And I didn't think correcting them was polite....

Students didn't seem to care, except there was often a camp type one, who spoke English OK and took a shine to me!

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The secret in Thailand is to say 'Yes' to everything while smiling and nodding your head.

 

The fact that you do not understand is neither here nor there, it is the agreeing that is seen as compliance. Not turning up to a meeting that you said "yes" to is not the issue here as you can always ask for forgiveness and it is generally given.  🙂

 

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, hughrection said:

The secret in Thailand is to say 'Yes' to everything while smiling and nodding your head.

 

The fact that you do not understand is neither here nor there, it is the agreeing that is seen as compliance. Not turning up to a meeting that you said "yes" to is not the issue here as you can always ask for forgiveness and it is generally given.  🙂

 

 

 

 

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Don't forget a few "Chai, Chai, Chais" thrown in at set intervals followed by Thai grunts "Uh...Uh...Uh" when someone important makes a point (what they say is irrelevant)

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