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OVERCOMING LANGUAGE BARRIERS AND STEREOTYPES

Stereotypes and misconceptions in the recruiting process can cause minorities to fail
unnecessarily. Some of the danger areas include:

____ 1. Too many people believe that a heavy foreign accent signals that the speaker is
uneducated, unassimilated into American culture, a member of a low
socioeconomic group, and ignorant of English vocabulary and grammar. The
only thing a foreign accents tells about the person is that he or she is bilingual.

____ 2. It is a common misconception that a person who does not speak English well
also does not understand English well. The truth is that it is much easier to
understand English than it is to speak it.

____ 3. For most individuals who are not fluent in more than one language, there is an
assumption that once vocabulary and grammar are learned, the person will
understand what is being said. However, the truth is that there is much more to
understanding a language than a basic knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.
Pronunciation is much harder in all languages than grammar and vocabulary.
English is one of the hardest languages to speak, especially for those whose
native tongue does not have Germanic and romantic roots like English.

____ 4. English is a very difficult language in that it has sounds other languages lack;
spelling is irregular; there are many subtleties which are very hard for non-
native to understand initially; and English uses many idioms that do not make
any sense to the non-English speaker.

____ 5. It may appear that some non-native speakers are rude, speak too loudly, or are
demanding. The reality is that English contains many softening phrases that are
not known to non-native speakers. Cultural and speech practices should not be
mistaken for anything other than what they are.

In order to be successful recruiting non-native English speakers, utilize the following


techniques:

____ 1. Understand the non-English speaker’s perspective.

____ 2. Do not make assumptions about the meaning of underdeveloped language


ability.

____ 3. Speak slowly, distinctly, simply and concretely.

____ 4. Use familiar words and avoid jargon, slang and idioms.

____ 5. Allow pauses, do not talk too much and be organized in your speech.
____ 6. Use the written word where possible.

____ 7. Recap and check frequently for understanding.

____ 8. Be careful not to embarrass the non-native speaker.

____ 9. Accept joint responsibility for communications.

____ 10. Listen carefully.

____ 11. Know a few words of the non-natives language, and use them in conversation.

____ 12. Remain positive.