By 2022, the amount spent on eLearning globally is expected to surpass $243 billion.

eLearning has become popular for individuals and companies who don’t have the time or availability to attend traditional classroom settings. While this method of learning is often convenient, many have encountered some difficulties due to language barriers on platforms that do not cater to more than one language.

Knowing that overcoming language barriers can be difficult, we’ve gathered a list with seven tips for you. Keep reading to learn how to conquer these eLearning hurdles.


Common language barriers

Language barriers are an especially common challenge in international businesses. Having an office abroad means you may have local employees who don’t speak your primary language.

Other examples of common language barriers you may face are:

  • Using jargon or technical language
  • Working with different dialects within the same language
  • Trying to understand wordy documents
  • Unclear instructions

Fortunately, all of these problems can be overcome.


Tricks for overcoming language barriers 

Your success as an eLearner or eLearning proponent rests on how you address these communication problems. Although it’s not going to be easy, consider it an opportunity for growth.

Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to overcome language barriers while learning online.

1. Find an online community 

One of the struggles you may face as an eLearner is a lack of community. Sitting in front of a screen and working on tasks for several hours can get lonely. It can also make it difficult to focus and learn.

By joining an online community with other people or co-workers, you and everyone involved will benefit. Look into forums, Facebook groups, or other social media platforms to connect with other struggling eLearners.

The biggest benefit beyond avoiding a feeling of loneliness is the chance to ask questions within a like-minded community so you can better understand the lessons.

2. Find translation services

Sometimes eLearning organizers are challenged with both cultural and linguistic barriers. Using phrases, idioms, and sayings in regular speech may be normal for you, but some cultures may consider them disrespectful or they may not have an easily understandable equivalent in another language.

There are also words that have a different use in other cultures. To help avoid misunderstanding, get the help of a quality translator or find a translation service that meets your specific needs.

This will also ensure that as you learn, you’re learning how to speak the language politely and appropriately for every situation.

3. Enlist interpreters

Another way to overcome language barriers in an eLearning setting is by using someone who speaks your native language and the one you’re trying to learn in.

Whether you have a bilingual friend or a co-worker at your office, having a trusted interpreter is a great way to ensure there isn’t any information or instructions missed due to a language barrier.

You can also hire a professional interpreter if you’re dealing with complex topics that need a precise translation. Many interpreters will work with you remotely so you don’t even have to find one locally to get help.

4. Use visual aids

Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand something when it’s written out, especially when it’s in another language.

If you’re having trouble with this, consider finding a way to get the information visually. As your eLearning instructor for a visual aid or search online to find one yourself. If you’re creating an eLearning course, make sure to use visuals whenever possible.

YouTube is a great resource for finding visual and audio presentations of nearly every subject, so you may be able to use videos there to supplement your learning. 

5. Be patient

Language barriers, like any other obstacles in eLearning, can be tedious and frustrating. Your instructor and classmates may have as much difficulty understanding you as you do them.

For that reason, it’s important to recognize that learning is a process and so is overcoming these difficulties. Be patient with others as they work to explain concepts to you and with yourself as you speak to them.

It may take some time, but if you’re constantly working at understanding one another, that difficulty will noticeably lessen the more you interact.

6. Check for understanding

Don’t be afraid to ask when you don’t understand something. It’s better for someone to have to explain something again than for you to fail a course because you were too afraid to ask.

By practicing reflective listening, you can check yourself to ensure your questions and explanations are clear as well.

You can also check your own understanding by asking yourself open-ended questions. Instead of asking yourself if you understand something, ask yourself what you understand.

Sometimes an action as simple as explaining something to yourself will help you understand it or allow you to see where you need reinforcement.

7. Keep it simple

Sometimes we have the tendency to use large words to make us sound more intelligent. However, that’s not really doing anyone any favors.

Using unnecessary jargon or fancy vocabulary only creates misunderstanding and may make people hesitate to ask questions if they don’t understand the concept you’re trying to get across.

Instead of trying to sound smart, focus on being understood. Always use the simplest language you can for the situation so concepts can be translated as accurately as possible.

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