If you’re in construction, chances are you’ve worked with Spanish speakers. Knowing Spanish can be a huge advantage to you and your company, especially since Hispanics make up just under one-third of the industry.
Language courses can be costly and time-consuming, so here are some quick and dirty tips to get around those lost-in-translation moments:
Change your device’s voice-to-text language. Foremost Paving, a company based in South Texas, couldn’t get their activities documented on a regular basis. Their Spanish-speaking employees had trouble explaining activities in English, so the crew changed their iPad’s Siri language preference from English to Spanish. Siri’s ability to translate spoken Spanish into written English allowed Foremost Paving to have the accurate and informative documents they needed, despite the language differences.
Utilize voice translation apps. Most of us use voice translation apps when we travel abroad, but forget that we can use those same apps at the office or in the field, too. Inc.com recommends trying these language apps:
• iTranslate Voice offers both translation and dictionary services. It connects two users wirelessly, so you can say a phrase and the translation is spoken back in real time. This solution is ideal if you’re trying to communicate across several job sites or between the field and the office, as long as all users have the app on their devices.
• iVoice Translator Pro acts as a double-sided translation service where both people can speak into one device. This helps when you’re trying to get past a language barrier in person, like you would on a job site. The app also displays the translated conversation that you can easily screenshot and save for future reference, if needed.
• iStone Travel Translation is ideal for people who want to communicate using local colloquialisms instead of a more direct or technical translation. This type of app makes sense on a construction site because information won’t be misinterpreted based on dialect.
Learn key phrases that are helpful on the job site. You’ve said it once, you’ve said it a thousand times. Yet sometimes information falls on deaf ears… or ears that only understand Spanish. Print out our Top 10 Phrases You Need to Know on the Job Site cheat sheet so you have easy access to some commonly used phrases in the field. For additional construction phrases in Spanish, keep one of these books in your truck.
Consider using translation apps for text (instead of just voice). For some people, it’s easier to write down what they’re trying to say than it is to speak it. And for job tracking and time cards reporting, it’s imperative to have documented information in writing.
• Google Translate is ideal for construction companies implementing data-gathering software in the field. The app can be used via mobile or desktop device and can work in offline mode as well. It also has the ability to translate text seen in a photo (e.g., street signs, safety instructions on a PDF, etc.).
• Waygo specifically helps people understand Asian languages. Although most construction companies communicate in English and Spanish, there might be times when you need to understand character-based languages. Waygo offers instant visual translation of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters.
Become fully immersed in the language. So, this one isn’t exactly the easiest solution, but it certainly has long-term benefits. Consider investing in Rosetta Stone for more complete fluency. It may take time and money, but it will be worth it. For people looking for a more cost-effective way to become fluent, try using the Duolingo app. Duolingo takes a gamification approach to learning another language, which makes the process fun and easy.
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