Picture this: you’re facilitating a live training session for your organization, and it comes time to ask for learner input. You open the floor for contributions with the common phrase, “A penny for your thoughts?”
And you get crickets. Your previously lively cohort goes silent. Some participants look utterly confused.
What happened? Your figure of speech may have confused your global learners.
Facilitators spend hours preparing for programs and consider the learning environment, training content, and experience level of learners. Those factors certainly impact the success of a blended learning campaign.
But the language used in the delivery of information also plays a critical role. Without a doubt, our organizations now support learners across the globe. Each participant brings with them a unique perspective, culture, and understanding of the language used in live and self-directed lessons.
Facilitators must consciously present information by limiting the use of idioms, “a phrase of expression that means something other than the literal meaning of its individual words.” Designers also need to limit the inclusion of regional phrases in learner-facing materials.
Ready for some additional examples and explanation?
Donna the Designer, our resident design superhero, shares why learning professionals need to 86 the Idioms in her adventure with Stan-the-Fairly-New-Design-Man. Watch and learn in under four minutes with this helpful video.
The moral of this story: while idioms exist in all languages, they’re often not universal. If we’re not careful, we can unwittingly confuse, alienate, or offend learners.
Do you have a story about supporting multi-cultural audiences or practical tips for supporting multi-language classrooms? Share it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!