The Commisceo Global Blog - Perfect for Culture Vultures

Whether a press release, a case study of cultural difference, some tips on working abroad or some lessons in cross-communication, we try our best to satiate your inner culture vulture.

20 Must Know Arabic Words and Phrases for your Business Trip to the Arab World

20 Must Know Arabic Words and Phrases for your Business Trip to the Arab World

Travelling to the Middle East, The Gulf or Arab world on business?

No matter where in the world you go for work knowing a few words or phrases in the local language can break down barriers, build relationships and smooth the way to business success.

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Employers want Intercultural Skills finds Ipsos report

Employers want Intercultural Skills finds Ipsos report
A new report from Ipsos finds that businesses need and want people with intercultual skills. John Worne agrees, stressing the importance of knowing your foreign languages and being culturally aware as a company.
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Culture Training will not solve Racism in Football

Culture Training will not solve Racism in Football

Can culture training for foreign footballers help solve the issue of racism in football? The Football Association seems to think educating players on British culture can help get rid of the ugly side of the game. Neil Payne gives his reaction to today's news.

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Gamification and Cultural Differences

Gamification and Cultural Differences
Playing games at work? From the work floor to education, gamification is becoming more and more common in a lot of areas. But the practice isn’t as straightforward as it seems: cultural differences prevent game developers from distributing one single game for different countries. Want to know what should be done to these games to cross the globe? 
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Podolski suffering football culture shock

Podolski suffering football culture shock

Culture shock is often referred to as the experience an exptriate or tourist travelling to a new country goes through. As Arsene Wenger has demonstrated, culture shock happens in many ways.

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Three-steps: Marketing to the Hispanic and Latino community

Three-steps: Marketing to the Hispanic and Latino community
Targeting the Hispanic and Latino community? Learn how language and cultural differences could impact a marketing campaign.

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The NHS: Shocking Cost of Poor Translations



It’s always shocking to hear of taxpayers’ money going to waste in vast quantities: especially when it’s easily avoidable. Likewise, it’s always shocking to hear of suffering or death where this is easily avoidable. One of the key concerns for the NHS in the current savings drive is to ensure that services can be provided efficiently: helping people with healthcare needs for the lowest possible spend. When lives are on the line, quality cannot be compromised: price cannot be the bottom line.

A recent Freedom of Information Act request revealed that over £59,000 is spent on translation services2 every day in the UK3 within the NHS: and the immediate response to this information was panic. Advice was given to find a cheaper solution in machine translations, or cutting foreign language provision in favour of plain English. Responses were centred around cutting costs and minimising provision, with little concern for solutions that worked for both provider and user. However, experts in the fields of linguistics can point out the flaws of approaches that put translation costs as the bottom line; and can suggest logical ways of reducing costs and maximising efficiency without compromising on provision- indeed often offering savings in the long run.

One such expert is Katy Pritchard of Kwintessential. With an in-depth knowledge of both the public sector and the translation industry, she has today released a video outlining where the NHS could save money without compromising on quality.

In the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7aTO08AVyc), Katy outlines how literal translations can be more costly than they are effective. Translations must not only reflect the original meaning of a document, but they must also be suitable for their target audience. In order to ensure that translation spend is efficient, producing a well tailored piece, and ensuring that it is made available in an appropriate manner is vital. Machine translations are unable to correctly and consistently translate grammar and contextual meaning. In the long run this can mean that time spent producing flawed and unusable translations will result in unnecessary suffering. In the long term, providing well translated information to assist patients with prevention offer the opportunity to save money in the long term.

Translation in the health industry gives a high return. It really is a case of spending to save, but this spend must be in the right area. Imagine if the NHS Direct website was multi-lingual. Surgeries and hospitals up and down the country would no longer need to translate their own documents on conditions or treatments, as they would be available centrally. Not only would this save the repeated spend, but also hours of administrative and doctors’ time would be saved as patients could access information online without the need for an appointment and in-person interpreters. These provisions would be available to all regardless of where they lived.

Developing a Translation Memory is critical. Translation Memory is a tool which records the translation of specific words, phrases and sentences, with consideration given to their context, which can then be used in future translations. This technology, which is very different from literal online machine translations such as Google Translate, can provide a considerable cost saving as words that have been used in a set context before do not need to be charged for translation again. The user gains all of the benefits of a high quality human translator with a good knowledge of the subject matter, and documents can be produced consistently and cheaply up and down the country.

Translation and interpreting facilities are essential provisions in the modern day NHS, but unfortunately are not ones that are ingrained into its structure. Living in a multicultural society it’s inconceivable to suggest that we should preclude individuals who need healthcare - who are already facing enough barriers in accessing this due to cultural norms or expectations - from being able to communicate with experts or understand the information which they need. Before panicking when sourcing translation in the NHS, the industry encourages provisioners to work smarter; and to reap the rewards.

Notes

  1. Kwintessential was established in 2003 and offers linguistic services and cultural awareness training.

  2. ‘Translation’ is rewriting text from one language to another. ‘Interpretation’ refers to oral translation only. The report linked below incorrectly uses the two terms interchangeably.

  3. http://www.2020health.org/2020health/Publication/Professional-Development/Translation-Services.html

 
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HR Directors, Basil Fawlty and Global Communication


Some recent findings by The London School of English show language and culture are still not getting the attention they deserve within companies today.In fact, the spirit of Basil Fawlty seems to live on within some British businesses!

Despite the Government pinning hopes on UK PLC exporting, it brings into question whether UK companies are thinking globally or relying on the rest of the world to think and act in such a manner?

The findings suggest that, "UK-based businesses could be risking international growth by failing to invest in cross-cultural, language and communications training."

The results spwan from research carried out that questioned 100 HR directors on their attitudes towards language and communication skills and their approach to training.

These centenary research results show a shocking lacking of regard for our international, non-native English speaking business partners,” says Timothy Blake, Chief Executive of the London School of English. “The Brits may be reluctant to learn other languages, but this research suggests that we are not even prepared to invest in the training required to adapt our own language, accents and behaviour to help non-native English speakers understand us.”

Headline findings in the report include:

•    78% HR Directors questioned did not consider it necessary to train native English speakers to moderate their vocabulary when negotiating with non-native English speakers
•    98% believed their non-native English speakers could communicate effectively in English.
•    Although 67% of those questioned believed that it was “very important” for business people to have a good cultural understanding of their trading partners; only 23% would offer training.
•    Only 4% believed the “Basil Fawlty” approach of speaking “more loudly” would be effective in communicating with non-native English speakers.

Worrying stuff isnt it?

by +Neil Payne
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London Hospitals Spend £15m on Interpreters



In areas such as London where there is large culturally diversity, it seems that hospitals are running up larger than average bills because they are having to employ interpreters so that patients who do not speak the language can understand the medical staff who are treating them.
Recent numbers indicate that around seven hospital trusts in London have run up large bills employing interpreters trying to tackle language barriers. It has sparked fresh outcry across London and the rest of the UK that people who come to England to live need to be able to speak the language.
The London NHS Trust said that its biggest bill was for £2.2million pounds to make sure that patients who did not speak the language had access to interpreters. The figures highlight the problem of immigration and language barriers. Nick de Bois the MP who published the findings said that it was a clear example of the cost to the country that people who do not speak the language can bring.
The survey was based on information from The University College London Hospital Trust which spent £1.6million, Guy's Hospital and St Thomas' Hospital paid £1.3million and Great Ormond Street Hospital and Homerton University Hospital  had to pay approximately £1.2million each.
At a time when the country is cutting back on spending it seems an unnecessary expense for London hospitals to be spending their budget on interpreters. However it is also true that hospitals still need to provide proper patient care and when patients are unable to speak the language it seems that the hospitals have no choice but to employ interpreters.
Communication is important when it comes to good hospital care but this is not always easy or cheap as these London hospitals have proved by having to hire interpreters.
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Interpreters "Operating" In Hospitals



People often think that UK doctors are the pillars of UK society who you can trust implicitly, however it seems that the Europe is insisting on chipping away at the confidence that we have in our doctors.

This is due to foreign doctors entering the UK to work. According to recent figures not all doctors that enter the UK are assessed for their competency in the English language and as a result interpreters are being employed by the NHS to make the doctors understood.

European law states that as long as doctors are qualified to work in the UK health service then the General Medical Council are not able to refuse employment based on poor language skills. This has left the UK health service having to seek language interpreters to translate the language for foreign doctors.

Using interpreters creates an extra step in the medical process that allows for human error. If we need to start employing UK interpreters to translate the language for non-native speaking doctors there would be unnecessary bodies in the operating theatre and hospital wards. Interpreters have a difficult job and they can make mistakes due to the nuances of a language and errors are just not an option when you are dealing with lives.

The UK General Medical Council has made a submission to the European Commission which is currently reviewing laws that allow doctors to practice freely across Europe. As there is no standardised medical qualification it means that is it hard to assess doctors that are not from the UK, let alone whether or not doctors are able to speak the language.

The GMC has known of cases where language interpreters have been needed in theatres and of cases when doctors operating on a patient have spoken to co-workers in a language other than English and this left confusion in the operating theatre.
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Bilingual Business @ Home



The benefits of launching operations globally have been well documented. Launching offices in places like India and China has allowed companies like Nestle and Google to harness the benefits of addressing consumers in their own language.
But you don’t have to go abroad to benefit from going bi-lingual. Your operations can stay at home and still significantly increase their consumer base through the use of additional languages.
1.    Cultural Diversity Online
Many countries are culturally diverse today, especially in urban areas, so launching websites that address the multi-lingual roots of your consumers can bring you big business at home. For example the USA has a population of 311 million people, of this number almost 50 million have Hispanic roots. Adopting Spanish-language websites could improve the uptake of internet shopping in this culture-group as they feel that their linguistic needs are being directly addressed. Furthermore on a practical level, roughly 12 million of these people are unable to speak English proficiently meaning that Spanish-language websites are the only way for them to access the web.

2.    Bi-Lingual in-store
However, not all companies want to make the investment in multiple websites, perhaps deciding that the translation output or the cost of personale to run these sites is too high. Some companies such as Home Depot have even found that multiple sites can cause problems where consumers believe they can purchase products in countries like Spain (because the website is in Spanish) whereas the company only currently deliver in the USA. Home Depot’s solution was the facilitation of bi-lingual communication in-store.
Spanish-speaking employees in-store were able to serve the quarter of Hispanic people who don’t speak English and the further fifty percent of Hispanics who, although proficient in English, prefer to communicate in their mother-tongue.

Of course companies can then expand their delivery or offices worldwide in response to the demand for their multiple lingual sites. Companies like Best Buy, NutriSystem, AFLAC and Vonage have all made moves to service their culturally and linguistically diverse consumer base.
So if you haven’t the money or just don’t want to make the move to global offices or delivery at the moment you can still benefit from making your company bi-lingual. Whether online or in-store people respond better when they feel their custom is appreciated; so bi-lingual could not only encourage people to use your services but also ensure they continue to come back to you in the future.
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2011 Census Translation Costs



The impending 2011 Census is projected to cost the United Kingdom Government £480 million; a large percentage of this cost is being taken up by the multiple translations of both the Census and its relevant advertisements.

The Census, which will be conducted on March 27th, is a legal requirement for all citizens over the age of 18 and is conducted once every ten years. The last Census was completed in 2001 and cost around £200 million. The significant increase in cost is said to arise from inflation coupled with the biggest ten-year growth in the population the UK has ever seen, which means significantly more Censuses are required than in 2001.

More people also means more censuses in more languages, because two-thirds of the population growth came from migrants who have settled in the UK in the last ten years. Furthermore because immigrant communities are amongst the lowest ‘turn-out’ groups for on-time completion of the Census, the Office for National Statistics (ONS- which organizes the survey) is placing extra money and manpower into ensuring this group completes on time. The Census will be translated into 56 languages, whilst 30,000 people have been employed to help immigrant communities and other low ‘turn-out’ groups to complete their surveys on time.

This expense has subsequently caused many to question the financial viability of the Census just two years from the 2008/9 economic crisis; some have even questioned the validity of continuing the Census at all.

On one hand the Census is important in that it provides a huge amount of practical information for the public services. It helps local councils assess how many primary school places are needed each year and in the future could be vital in planning elderly care for the increasingly aging population. Given the number of immigrants who have set up home since 2001 it is necessary to find out how these ‘extra’ people’s needs has and will affect our public services. Without compulsory surveying we might not be able to systematically gain this information from these communities.

However, despite the Census being labeled ‘compulsory’ almost three million people failed to complete the 2001 edition. Therefore can we really trust the validity of its results when groups such as the immigrant community are under-represented through non-completion? These skewed results might actually worsen our public services if the government subsequently under-estimates the level of care these communities need.

Aside from the practical implications, the Census is a core tool for academics and historians. Researchers can track trends in culture and society since its first implementation in 1801, meaning the Census effectively helps ‘write’ the history of the UK. Without this resource we could not look to the findings of the past in order to predict the possible challenges of the future.

Yet although the majority of people accept these benefits there is still widespread discomfort as to the cost of the Census when the UK has just come out of recession. Some people think that migrants living in the UK should be able to complete the Census in English (or alternatively Welsh) and dislike paying for so translations to be produced. Although it is impossible to know if this is just a Census concern or part of their wider doubts about high immigration levels and its affect on the economy and public services.

With more information available to the us and the government everyday through internet browser cookies and other virtual data storage, perhaps people just feel that it is time that the ONS relied on this existing information instead of spending so much on promoting a survey that many people fail to complete.
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2011 Census Translation Costs



The impending 2011 Census is projected to cost the United Kingdom Government £480 million; a large percentage of this cost is being taken up by the multiple translations of both the Census and its relevant advertisements.

The Census, which will be conducted on March 27th, is a legal requirement for all citizens over the age of 18 and is conducted once every ten years. The last Census was completed in 2001 and cost around £200 million. The significant increase in cost is said to arise from inflation coupled with the biggest ten-year growth in the population the UK has ever seen, which means significantly more Censuses are required than in 2001.

More people also means more censuses in more languages, because two-thirds of the population growth came from migrants who have settled in the UK in the last ten years. Furthermore because immigrant communities are amongst the lowest ‘turn-out’ groups for on-time completion of the Census, the Office for National Statistics (ONS- which organizes the survey) is placing extra money and manpower into ensuring this group completes on time. The Census will be translated into 56 languages, whilst 30,000 people have been employed to help immigrant communities and other low ‘turn-out’ groups to complete their surveys on time.

This expense has subsequently caused many to question the financial viability of the Census just two years from the 2008/9 economic crisis; some have even questioned the validity of continuing the Census at all.

On one hand the Census is important in that it provides a huge amount of practical information for the public services. It helps local councils assess how many primary school places are needed each year and in the future could be vital in planning elderly care for the increasingly aging population. Given the number of immigrants who have set up home since 2001 it is necessary to find out how these ‘extra’ people’s needs has and will affect our public services. Without compulsory surveying we might not be able to systematically gain this information from these communities.

However, despite the Census being labeled ‘compulsory’ almost three million people failed to complete the 2001 edition. Therefore can we really trust the validity of its results when groups such as the immigrant community are under-represented through non-completion? These skewed results might actually worsen our public services if the government subsequently under-estimates the level of care these communities need.

Aside from the practical implications, the Census is a core tool for academics and historians. Researchers can track trends in culture and society since its first implementation in 1801, meaning the Census effectively helps ‘write’ the history of the UK. Without this resource we could not look to the findings of the past in order to predict the possible challenges of the future.

Yet although the majority of people accept these benefits there is still widespread discomfort as to the cost of the Census when the UK has just come out of recession. Some people think that migrants living in the UK should be able to complete the Census in English (or alternatively Welsh) and dislike paying for so translations to be produced. Although it is impossible to know if this is just a Census concern or part of their wider doubts about high immigration levels and its affect on the economy and public services.

With more information available to the us and the government everyday through internet browser cookies and other virtual data storage, perhaps people just feel that it is time that the ONS relied on this existing information instead of spending so much on promoting a survey that many people fail to complete.
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Language Aptitude Tests for Foreign Doctors


With the well publicized case of Dr Daniel Ubani earlier this year has come the question as to how many other EU GPs practicing in the UK are ‘lost in translation’. Dr Ubani had “unlawfully killed” UK patient David Gray in 2008 after mistakenly giving him a large overdose of diamorphine.

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Portsmouth Police turn to Translation Packs

The police in Portsmouth have taken an interesting approach to communicating with non-English speaking shoppers. As part of an initiative by Plymouth Against Retail Crime (Parc),  translation packs are being given to large stores, with some going to police patrol cars used around the city centre too.

The packs contain 13 cards, each carrying phrases in a foreign language and their English translation. Languages include Turkish, Spanish, Russian, Italian, French and Farsi. The cards can be used in situations where a foreigner needs help or is suspected of a crime in a store.

Although its a shame the cards are being used within the context of criminal activity it does demonstrate the understanding that simple actions such as phrases does make a difference. Wouldn't it be nice if staff could also get translation cards with simple greetings instead though?

Read more > Translation packs
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Portsmouth Police turn to Translation Packs

The police in Portsmouth have taken an interesting approach to communicating with non-English speaking shoppers. As part of an initiative by Plymouth Against Retail Crime (Parc),  translation packs are being given to large stores, with some going to police patrol cars used around the city centre too.

The packs contain 13 cards, each carrying phrases in a foreign language and their English translation. Languages include Turkish, Spanish, Russian, Italian, French and Farsi. The cards can be used in situations where a foreigner needs help or is suspected of a crime in a store.

Although its a shame the cards are being used within the context of criminal activity it does demonstrate the understanding that simple actions such as phrases does make a difference. Wouldn't it be nice if staff could also get translation cards with simple greetings instead though?

Read more > Translation packs
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Milkman shows ultimate Cross-Cultural Customer Service



"Cemcho bhai, harisani, ano chokra kabar?"

That is Gujarati for: "Hello brother, how are you? Any news about your son?"

Not too unusual as the start of a conversation in the heart of the Asian community in Blackburn, apart from the fact that the words are being spoken by a 69-year-old white, English-born milkman.

John Mather, aka Jimmy, has been doing the rounds in this north-west town for the past 50 years. And as he has gone from door-to-door in the town's large Asian community, he has become almost fluent in Gujarati.

"When I first started the rounds here there were only a handful of Asian families, about eight or 10, in the London Road, Whalley St and Altom St areas," says Jimmy.

But as more arrived on the foreign shores from Kenya and Malawi, Jimmy's ability to go beyond delivering just milk - and procure the sorts of foods they couldn't pick up in the local supermarket - put him in greater demand.

"They wanted natural yoghurt, ghee, goats and chickens, the type of things they were used to back home. I'd gone to the dairies here and they said that there wasn't the demand, but they couldn't have been more wrong."

Read more > BBC
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Milkman shows ultimate Cross-Cultural Customer Service



"Cemcho bhai, harisani, ano chokra kabar?"

That is Gujarati for: "Hello brother, how are you? Any news about your son?"

Not too unusual as the start of a conversation in the heart of the Asian community in Blackburn, apart from the fact that the words are being spoken by a 69-year-old white, English-born milkman.

John Mather, aka Jimmy, has been doing the rounds in this north-west town for the past 50 years. And as he has gone from door-to-door in the town's large Asian community, he has become almost fluent in Gujarati.

"When I first started the rounds here there were only a handful of Asian families, about eight or 10, in the London Road, Whalley St and Altom St areas," says Jimmy.

But as more arrived on the foreign shores from Kenya and Malawi, Jimmy's ability to go beyond delivering just milk - and procure the sorts of foods they couldn't pick up in the local supermarket - put him in greater demand.

"They wanted natural yoghurt, ghee, goats and chickens, the type of things they were used to back home. I'd gone to the dairies here and they said that there wasn't the demand, but they couldn't have been more wrong."

Read more > BBC
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The International Business of Language



Whilst the world is beginning to shrink with the opening up in communication and travel, so the world of business expands. In the last two decades never has there been such a need in the business world than to have a full, comprehensive knowledge and understanding of language and its impact across the globe. How much emphasis is given to language in your business? Language is the base communication throughout your business. Language transcends all in the business world. It is what makes the world the place it is and helps us to communicate with others.
Language as a tool in business should be seen as exactly that, a tool. Language should be as important to your business as your hard drives, your catalogues and manuals and all the other tools you perceive to be essential to conducting your business.

If you see language as a tool within your business you are more likely to foster the care and attention you need to place upon the way in which you use language. Perhaps you should adopt the mantra ‘language isn’t just for talking’. Language is for all communication. Some tips to help you to start using your tool of language in order to maximise your communication with your business counterparts. Firstly, you must be very clear and concise about the messages you wish to convey. Cut out the unnecessary words, don’t be convoluted about it, stick to the point and you will ensure you have been fully understood. Remember, and don’t forget, language is a tool and you want your tools to work for you. Personal style goes a long way to say something about you so don’t let the day’s stresses or any personal setbacks to show in the way you use your tool of language, believe it or not, a frown, a shortness or abruptness of manner can be off putting and leave the person with whom you are communicating feeling unsettled. Language is your business tool so, smile, make eye contact, it’s all part of the language. We call it body language.

It is extremely important in the world of business that your build good relationships. How do you do this? You use your language tool of course. It may seem like a time consuming exercise, may be even seen as patronising and pointless, but, if you are to succeed in fostering good, amicable and workable business relationships, a little training in how your company uses the language tool will not come amiss. Why not consider your own corporate brand of your valuable language tool? Why do you think the American’s use the phrase ‘have a nice day’? Because it works. Language says something about you. The language tool is your badge. Wear it well and you can’t go wrong.
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Boost international trade through Languages



In order for the UK to boost international trade it must invest much more in languages, according to a new report.

The report by James Foreman-Peck of Cardiff Business School found that not learning languages "promotes complacency and under-investment".

Teresa Tinsley, director of communications at CILT, the National Centre for Languages, said: "We urgently need to raise awareness amongst young people of both the economic and cultural benefits of learning a language."

She went on to say that she wanted to see more employers using management skills and valuing languages as a key business skill.

Ms Tinsley said she wanted to see commitment from all government departments – not just the Department for Children, Schools and Families – to recognise the importance of languages to Britain's future.

CILT recently published its new agenda for languages calling on government agencies and businesses to place more value on languages.

"We need to increase the number of UK graduates competent to work internationally, to enable them to compete with multilingual counterparts from across the world," Ms Tinsley added.

The Cardiff Business School report also found evidence to suggest that Britain's language investment is so low that it imposes a heavier tax on British trade than the average for the rest of the world.
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