When addressing your team, here are three ways to engage them even if they don't speak English as first language.

Overheard in the Kitchen

We hear managers say “Right” when someone did something correctly. This is used more often than “correct.”

It’s great to offer positive reinforcement, but your team who doesn’t speak English might not understand that you’re giving positive feedback when you say "right". Use the word “correct” or “good” with beginning English speakers to ensure you get the point across. While we can't adjust the frequency of word usage in English, you can be mindful of when you use certain words and with whom.

Asking Questions to Get Answers

Ever notice how when you ask the question “How as your day?” that you tend to get the same answer? — “good.”.

Here’s a tip to get a genuine answer from your team. Ask it this way instead: “Was your day good?”. By closing up the question and offering a possible answer, you’re giving your team permission to say that their day wasn’t so good, which leads to a healthy dialogue.

(Pro tip: This works for your team that does speak English as a first language too!)

Requests with 'Will'

We use the word “will” in English more often then we use the word “going to”. But most often we don’t use it to talk about the future, we use it to ask someone to do something. For example, “Will you get the door?”. So, when we’re teaching English, we’re sure to help employees understand that “will” goes well beyond the future.