Using a Foreign Language in the Workplace

Speaking the Same Language

Co-workers should be allowed to speak languages other than English, but what does that mean for inclusion? Sometimes people simply speak the language they're most fluent in. They aren't trying to exclude anyone - or speak about someone behind their backs. It's just the quickest and most efficient to talk. For English speaking bystanders, this can be unnerving. Sometimes it's less about what's being said than it is about feeling excluded. After all, it's easy to feel like the outsider if two people are speaking a language you don't understand.

Microlesson Description
This lesson provides guidance on using foreign languages at work and instructs employees on how to speak up when they are feeling excluded. Legally speaking, employees are allowed to converse with one another in whichever language they please. It’s important to empower employees to be their most authentic selves at work, but it can have negative consequences for workplace culture and perceptions of inclusion.

Key Concepts

  • Why it’s usually best to speak in a language that most of the people within the area can understand.  
  • A reminder that people sometimes speak in the language that is easiest and most efficient for them. 
  • How to communicate with each other if one person is feeling uncomfortable and want to participate in the conversation.
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