5 steps to protecting a multilingual workforce from COVID-19

As employees are returning to the workplace, it is important to ensure that everyone understands the new protocol. In the 2011 census, 863,000 residents reported that they could not speak English ‘very well’ or ‘at all’. This is combined with the fact that only 65% of these residents described themselves as being in good health. Therefore, these residents are more likely to be seriously affected by COVID-19. 

In an effort to keep all employees safe, here are some top tips on making the workplace COVID-secure for everyone. 

1. Signs 

As we add more signage to the workplace to remind people to wear masks and keep their distance, remember to add photos or icons, rather than a purely word-based sign. For example, it can be particularly important to visually show how to wear a mask, ensuring the mask covers both the mouth and the nose. 

Free posters can be found here

2. Vocabulary 

In April, two of the most commonly used keywords online were ‘furlough’ and ‘asymptomatic’. By May, ‘antibody’ and ‘easing’ were being used more frequently. The vocabulary of this pandemic is rapidly changing and highly scientific; as a result, it is unlikely to have been taught in school English classes! 

Therefore, it may be useful to provide the translation in your employees’ home languages. This will ensure comprehension of current guidance and information, especially for key words which cannot be easily displayed with an image.

3. Tests 

Providing small tests are a great way to ensure employees understand the implications of the safety measures as well as what is expected of them. There are many free multiple-choice platforms online that you can use to create your own COVID quizzes. Quizzes are important to test whether information has been digested and retained. 

4. Communication 

Having strong communication channels with your employees so they can voice any concerns about returning to work or any issues within the workplace is key. And, vice versa, ensure you can quickly inform staff if working arrangements change or if your area goes into a local lockdown. 

It is also important to ensure that employees understand that if they are not feeling well, they can call 111 and ask for an interpreter in the language they need. This is a free service. Remind employees that they should not come into the workplace if they are showing any COVID symptoms. Additionally, if they test positive for COVID-19, they must let their line manager know so other employees can self-isolate and the area can be disinfected. 

COVID-19

5. Use FlashAcademy® Workplace 

At FlashAcademy®, we have just launched Workplace COVID-19 lessons which will be available in 20 languages. These lessons teach the key vocabulary surrounding COVID-19 from the users’ home language to English. The learners see a picture when learning key terminology which cements the understanding through using a visual aid. Lessons use the words in context through dialogues. These dialogues present typical workplace scenarios, therefore, learners understand the new vocabulary  in a real-life context. This ensures that vocabulary is pre-taught ready for health and safety briefings, understanding signage or communicating with the wider team. 

Visit https://flashacademy.com/workplace/ for more information.

Katharine Miles

Katharine is a member of our Content team. She loves researching interesting features of world languages and is passionate about multilingualism and language diversity. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking and planning adventures around the world.

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