Magazine article Training & Development

Making Training Friendly to Other Cultures

Magazine article Training & Development

Making Training Friendly to Other Cultures

Article excerpt

"The instructor spoke so fast I couldn't keep up."

* "I had a hard time figuring out acronyms and new words."

* "I had no previous knowledge and experience on this subject."

* "The training method was great, but it would never be used in my country."

* "We want more English language training."

The above are common complaints from international trainees who attend American training programs.

As more and more organizations do business globally, training international employees becomes a critical issue for business success.

Instructional systems design principles are frequently practiced in training and are often used by business and industry in America. The question is, can we apply these principles to multicultural training?

ISD is a systematic process that includes analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating instruction. ISD evolved from general systems, communication, learning, and instructional theories--all of which are scientifically proven to have a great impact on human learning.

However, although human nature and the human brain operate the same the world over, people from other cultures speak different languages and behave differently. Each country has its own values, beliefs, ideas, and views of the world. If you don't understand the trainees' characteristics, culture, history, and socio-economic backgrounds, you will not be able to create effective training programs.

To successfully apply ISD principles to multicultural training situations, many aspects of the ISD process need to be modified. Following are 12 suggestions on how to successfully adapt ISD to multicultural training programs.

1. Modify communication to accommodate cultural differences. In multicultural training, communication is more difficult when people speak different languages and must concentrate on translating the message as they listen to it. Because of this, consider how much and how quickly the average trainee is able to handle information. Also consider the logical order and structure of the information and proper use of visual and aural messages.

2. Conduct a thorough training-needs and audience analysis. In needs analysis, not only should the training needs be determined to solve performance problems, but also the technology taught in the training program should be appropriate to each nation's situation. Information on learner characteristics may help the designer to create effective, relevant, and interesting instructional materials. For instance, knowledge about the trainees' socioeconomic and cultural background may help the designer determine their interests and, consequently, select examples and contexts that make the instruction relevant and interesting.

3. Conduct English classes. Teach some English before and during training for trainees who have language difficulties. That can help people deal with the vocabulary presented in class and assist in their ability to translate information correctly and quickly enough to keep up with the instructor.

4. Include international members on the design team. A multicultural staff can be very useful in this age of international business and competition, and people who are familiar with the cultures of the participants can help design courses appropriately.

5. Make learning task analysis meaningful to trainees. Especially for those international trainees who have science and engineering backgrounds, learning tasks should be analyzed and organized in detailed, logical, and meaningful ways. …

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