Lost your password?


Dear Workforce Should We Hire a Translator

Dear English-Challenged:

Here are some ideas to consider if you want to get your non-English-speaking technical team up to speed more quickly.

Instead of translators, you might want to hire some bilingual engineers who can work closely with your non-English-speaking engineers. Translators could be a problem, since they may have difficulty translating the technical information into both languages. This would slow down the process dramatically and could make the problem worse.

Although hiring other engineers adds technical redundancy, you get value-added benefits both in more technical insight and in more accurate translations. I recommend sending all the non-English-speaking engineers to an English-immersion course, about four to eight hours per week. Have the bilingual group attend also; they’ll be helpful in this transition. A well-designed program like this will get your technical team up to speed within four to six months.

Separately, you might want to find bilingual engineering companies to use as part-time consultants during this transition period. Find some technical groups to whom you can subcontract a piece of your project work. Also, give them the assignment to work closely with your technical team to help train in English. Perhaps they could conduct a weekly project-review meeting in both languages to support the English language immersion program.

If possible, reorganize the work to match the best bilingual engineers with the most talented engineers. This might not be possible, since skills and assignments often can’t be split easily, but it’s something to consider. Often, work doesn’t get done as effectively as possible because managers are reluctant to split up the assignments differently. However, using this option could help you overcome your language bottleneck.

SOURCE: Lou Adler,Adler Concepts, Tustin, California, April 29, 2003.

LEARN MORE: Ask an attorney about English-only policies.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from federal law.

Ask a Question
Dear Workforce Newsletter