May 07, 2020

How to Overcome Language Barriers When Working With Offshore Developers

Expanding your business to a country with a different primary language can be challenging. Language is a critical factor in a successful offshore venture. At Allshore Virtual Staffing, our developers are vetted through an intensive interview system to ensure they have the English communication and comprehension skill necessary for successful communication with your team.  However, accents, vocabulary, slang, expressions, and tones vary depending on location and culture – creating a minimal, but real natural language barrier.


At Allshore, we have experience bridging barriers, so we put together a few tips on how to overcome language gaps.

Speak Clearly and Concisely 

When communicating with your outsourced team, use simple terminology and clear annunciation. Using simple, concise vocabulary prevents confusion and frustration and encourages transparent conversation.  Speaking with a steady, comfortable pace and confident, friendly tone establishes clear understanding and respect and ensures efficient communication.  

Don’t Be Sarcastic

A lot of people enjoy sarcasm as a form of humor, but it can also be considered rude and create misunderstandings when translated incorrectly, especially when you are not talking face-to-face. When humor is contextual and the other person hasn’t grown up in the same environment as you they may not perceive sarcasm as a joke and feel hurt by it.

Don’t Be Offended By Words Misused By Non-English Speakers

In countries where English is used as a second language, it is common to misuse words or use them in a way that does not translate well to you. Don’t be offended by this; instead try to correct them politely. Bear in mind that intonation varies with culture as well. What may seem rude or abrupt to you may be professional and direct to an employee. Be patient and communicate how language and intonation translates across to you to reach a mutual understanding.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For the Other Person to Repeat If You don’t Understand

As previously stated, intonation, vocabulary, and accent can all present misunderstandings in conversation.  If you do not understand you team member’s accent or pronunciation, politely ask them to repeat themselves. If you do not understand their usage of vocabulary, ask them the meaning of what they have said for a better understanding and clarification. There is no need to be shy or embarrassed when trying to prevent ambiguity, especially when it comes to  getting development done right!

Avoid Using Your Native Jargons, Idioms, and Slangs

Slang, jargons, and idioms are unique to individual cultures and there is little chance that someone outside of your native culture will understand them. Jargons like “duh,” “bummer,” or “y’all” are common in the U.S., but can be difficult for non-native English speakers to understand them.

Follow Up With an Email or Text Message

After speaking to your team over video or voice call, follow up with an email or a chat message. It’s typically much easier for people to read and understand English better than when heard. Sending a detailed, grammatically correct email or a text highlighting your call session will provide clarity and understanding of your goals and expectations.

By nature, language is self-expression. Self-expression varies depending on culture, and culture varies from countries, states, and even neighborhoods. We use our language to communicate our goals, emotions, dreams, and expectations. We use it to form relationships with other people.

It is inevitable for language to differ and for misunderstandings to arise on occasion. However, maintaining patience and transparency will minimize discrepancies and allow communication with your team to flow smoothly, ultimately ending in the success of your project.

If you’re interested in seeing what Allshore Virtual Staffing can do for you click here!


Contact Us

    We take your privacy seriously will only use your personal information to administer your account and provide information and services you've requested. For more
    information, check out our Privacy Policy.