People learn better in their first language

In a recent article on, Leanne Blaney mentioned that research conducted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) found that: 

“optimal learning within primary school children was achieved when conducted in the children’s first language.”

Now, although you might think that the conclusion of UNESCO’s research is common knowledge, the sad reality is that many international companies still do not have a strong understanding of available translation services that may help them improve their internal and external business correspondence. Which, honestly, is a bit baffling to me. You would think that, in our global economy, companies would try harder to make sure that their E-learning initiatives are available in their employees’ mother tongue. Why? Well, one reason is that a person’s first language involves more than just language. It includes a person’s social and cultural identity. The choice of words and expressions carry different meaning across different cultures (a question which would be considered rude or impertinent in one culture, might not be problematic in any way in another culture). 

In addition, when children develop their mother tongue, they are simultaneously cultivating a conglomeration of other skills that they take with them into adulthood, and any skills and concepts they learn in their first language don’t have to be relearned when they transfer to a second language. For example, if you have the ability to infer a word’s meaning by looking at its context, you can use this skill when you’re learning a new language. However, it’s a lot harder to teach these skills directly in a second language. 

The same principle applies when an employee receives a training in a language that isn’t their mother tongue. They won’t will pick up new skills and contexts quite as fast and quite as easily as they would have if the training had been available in their first language. You can probably guess my point by now. Developing e-learning initiatives (webinars, online training programmes, instruction manuals, etc.) in your employees’ mother tongue might cost a bit of money, but it’ll save you a lot of time, and your employees will be able to ingest the subject matter a lot more swiftly and smoothly (which means that, in the end, you’ll save time and your investment will pay itself back).

If you’re interested in developing e-learning materials in your employees’ mother tongue (or perhaps you already have an awesome online training programme, but you want to have it localized  in a different language), please feel free to contact us. Our dedicated and experienced team of translators, copywriters, graphic designers and editors are ready to help.

Whether you need translation, editing, proofreading, localization, transcreation, subtitling, dubbing or entirely new content, we’ve got you covered.

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