Bringing Cultural Training Into Expatriation 

4/21/2015

Even if an expatriate knows the language of the country they’re travelling to, does that mean they can communicate well while there? Things like intonation, eye contact, or the choice of specific words can make a huge negative or positive difference in conveying one’s point. For example, in Mexico, if a person wants to make sure the people they’re talking to understand their message, they might ask, “Me explico?” which would translate to “Am I explaining myself (clearly)?”  However, Colombians usually say “Me entiendes?” or “Do you understand me?” which could be viewed by their Mexican colleagues as very condescending. Both Mexicans and Columbians speak Latin American Spanish, but there are huge variations in word usage and meaning that can lead to misinterpretations and missed points. During our language and cultural training sessions, we here at Berlitz|TMC provide our students with this type of information, which lowers the risk of being misunderstood or even perceived as rude.

However, Berlitz|TMC offers more than language and cultural training programs. Take the Cultural Navigator. This online learning platform is great resource in preparing for business trips or longer assignments abroad. For example, going into one of the Cultural Navigator’s country guides provides people who are travelling abroad insight into the similarities and differences between their home and host cultures’ norms when it comes to meeting, negotiating, training and business interactions.

Country-to-country gap analyses are another good way to compare the cultural norms of a person’s home and host countries side-by-side, so future expats can see in a simple format differences in the countries’ cultural interaction styles, thinking styles and sense of self.

The Cultural Navigator also has interactive, animated learning paths on working in specific countries, as well as other written, visual and audio content on topics from virtual communication to building a diverse team.

Language and cultural training programs, as well as the Cultural Navigator learning platform, are part of the portfolio of solutions Berlitz|TMC offers companies. Training employees in the best ways to communicate with the people they’ll be working with abroad leads to greater employee comfort in their expatriation, and greater success on the job.

Diana Anderson