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Engaging a multilingual workforce with verbal virtual training activities

Exploring how to utilise verbal activities for remote learning with multi-lingual teams

23rd February 2024

Engaging a multilingual workforce with verbal virtual training activities
We last explored using non-verbal activities for virtual training sessions when a language barrier is present. But what about using verbal activities when there is a language barrier? Is it even possible? Can we improve diversity through virtual training with these constraints?

This blog post delves into how virtual learning activities that use verbal communication can be used by multi-lingual teams foster teamwork, leadership, and creativity.

The Potential for Verbal activities in our training sessions
We believe you can use verbal activities in remote training sessions for multilingual teams. Yes, while some activities bypass language barriers (such as those highlighted in our previous post), by giving team members opportunities to work in different languages or build language skills is incredibly valuable. These are particularly valuable in remote settings, where verbal misunderstandings can be amplified due to the lack of physical presence, or language/jargon issues.

Building Teamwork and Leadership
The Images of Organisations activity is an easily accessible exercise that focuses on teamwork and communications with the ability for the group to work in any language they choose.  In this activity, remote team members respond to a question posed by the facilitator such as:
'Pick an image that reflects when this team is working at its best'. 

Each participant then chooses from the 16 x different cartoon metaphor images presented. These images are proven to work with participants from any level and have been used for more than 20 years with participants from across the world.

A supplementary question may be added such as:
'Pick a second image that you think depicts how the team could be when working at its full potential.'

Each participant, led by the facilitator, then shares the images they chose and explains why (in their own language), giving them the opportunity to speak from their own personal viewpoint.
This exercise is invaluable in remote learning settings for multi-lingual teams as it allows members to build shared understanding without language being a barrier - each person can respond in their own words, and others can ask questions where required with the visual metaphor the same for all participants. It also helps everyone understand differing point of view within multi-lingual and diverse teams.

This activity can be conducted in around 30 minutes to an hour and can be used with as few as 2 participants and as many as 50.

A popular verbal problem-solving team activity
Colourblind Plus is an engaging activity that requires teams to communicate without pictures - yet verbally describe unusual images to solve the challenge. It can help build verbal communication skills, starting with a short introductory activity in pairs; which can then lead to a more challenging small group version (using the learning from the paired activity) before potentially then attempting the large group version (up to 14 people). 

Participants rehearse good communication practices to convey precise information and help others understand what they can see in this series of increasingly challenging tasks. This activity is an excellent way to highlight the importance of a common language in team communication & dynamics; the need for clear and unambiguous descriptions that are checked for mutual understanding; and the ability to flex language patterns to aid comprehension. 

All important in any team, but especially in multicultural teams where language barriers might exist.

Incorporating verbal  like Images of Organisations and, Colourblind Plus in remote learning for multi-lingual teams isn't without its challenges but can lead to more effective and inclusive team performance.

These activities can not only overcome language barriers but also develop essential skills such as leadership, teamwork, and emotional intelligence. As remote work continues to grow, harnessing the power of verbal & non-verbal communication in training and team development will become increasingly important for fostering productive and harmonious multi-lingual teams.

All these activities are available exclusively online through Experiential Learning Tools. Pick a subscription plan and sign up today to get instant access to Images of Organisations, Broken Squares and, Colourblind Plus and many other award winning activities that will allow you to deliver both verbal and non-verbal virtual activities for multilingual teams making you organisation more diverse, inclusive and vibrant.

Michael Hayes @experientialLT

Head of Product at Experiential Learning Tools

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