Mul­ti­lin­gual train­ing boosts en­gage­ment and re­sults

BY DAR­REN COTTINGHAM, DT DRIVER TRAIN­ING ( DRIVERTRAINING.CO.NZ )

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - HEALTH & SAFETY -

MI­GRANTS TO New Zealand con­trib­ute greatly to the New Zealand work­force. Many mi­grants have English as a sec­ond lan­guage, as was con­firmed by our most re­cent cen­sus which found that around 830,000 peo­ple are mul­ti­lin­gual with some level of English as one of the lan­guages (about 18.6 per­cent); 3.9 per­cent of peo­ple iden­ti­fied as not speak­ing English at all. The most com­mon lan­guages spo­ken other than English are Te Reo Maori, Samoan, Hindi, North­ern Chi­nese (in­clud­ing Man­darin) and French. That cen­sus was back in 2013 and mi­gra­tion has only in­creased since then, there­fore we could ex­pect the pro­por­tions to be higher.

The ideal age to learn a new lan­guage is be­fore the age of 10 with lan­guage learn­ing abil­ity de­clin­ing from around age 17. Lev­els of ver­bal and writ­ten lit­er­acy can vary wildly and this can cause dif­fi­cul­ties when com­pa­nies want to pro­vide train­ing to their em­ploy­ees. It’s not only mi­grants that strug­gle, but New Zealand has a sur­pris­ingly low level of lit­er­acy com­pared to other de­vel­oped coun­tries. As re­ported by Ra­dio New Zealand, the Book Coun­cil cites stud­ies show­ing that 40 per­cent of adults in NZ are func­tion­ally il­lit­er­ate.

This makes in- per­son train­ing chal­leng­ing: a room full of peo­ple with mixed lit­er­acy, cul­tural and lan­guage back­grounds is the most dif­fi­cult to train to a con­sis­tent level. Train­ers who only speak English might not be able to con­vey the ex­act mean­ing of a con­cept in a way that all trainees can un­der­stand.

A com­mon job per­formed by mi­grants is fork­lift op­er­a­tor. Fork­lift op­er­a­tors with English as a sec­ond lan­guage should have a min­i­mum level 5.0 IELTS or equiv­a­lent. This

is the equiv­a­lent of a per­son who can get by. The pass mark to achieve IELTS 5.0 is 40 per­cent for lis­ten­ing and 37.5 per­cent for read­ing and the de­scrip­tion of this level is: “The test taker has a par­tial com­mand of the lan­guage and copes with over­all mean­ing in most sit­u­a­tions, al­though they are likely to make many mis­takes. They should be able to han­dle ba­sic com­mu­ni­ca­tion in their own field.”

Given a com­pany’s re­quire­ment to en­sure its op­er­a­tors are trained ef­fec­tively and un­der­stand the ma­te­ri­als pre­sented, IELTS 5.0 could mean some sig­nif­i­cant gaps in com­pre­hen­sion and un­der­stand­ing. This is some­thing we looked at se­ri­ously when pro­duc­ing an on­line fork­lift op­er­a­tor’s certificate course.

To en­sure the best com­pre­hen­sion we ap­proached it in six ways:

1. Break the con­tent down into mul­ti­ple mod­ules, each of which takes around 10 min­utes or less. This is be­cause the av­er­age at­ten­tion span is given as 10-20 min­utes there­fore it’s bet­ter to do one or two mod­ules each day rather than them all in one go.

2. Pro­vide clear video and an­i­ma­tion con­tent with an English voiceover and with some of the ma­te­rial writ­ten on the screen as well as spo­ken. Videos can be played back at a slower or faster speed, too.

3. Pro­vide au­dio record­ings in English for all ques­tions.

4. En­able a trans­la­tion fea­ture so that ev­ery ques­tion can be trans­lated from English into 103 dif­fer­ent lan­guages. This in­cludes the five most com­monly spo­ken lan­guages

in New Zealand, men­tioned above.

5. Give ac­cess to the learn­ing ma­te­ri­als for 12 months. The trainees can take their time and, even af­ter they are fin­ished, can re­turn to the course for a re­fresher.

6. Al­low trainees to take the mod­ules as many times as re­quired un­til they get 100 per­cent.

The train­ing is avail­able on any de­vice – smart­phone, tablet or com­puter – so can be consumed when it’s most con­ve­nient for the trainee. As the con­tent is de­liv­ered us­ing our learn­ing man­age­ment sys­tem, an ad­min­is­tra­tor can track trainees’ progress and see if they are strug­gling with spe­cific mod­ules.

We felt that the cur­rent level of train­ing sug­gested by the Ap­proved Code of Prac­tice was too low. The ACOP re­quires an 80 per­cent pass rate, but we in­sist on a 100 per­cent pass rate. With the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 loom­ing large over busi­nesses, we in­cor­po­rated ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion and tech­niques to drive home the safety mes­sage.

A the­ory course is not a com­plete sub­sti­tute for train­ing and in­duc­tion on a spe­cific piece of ma­chin­ery – there are still re­quire­ments and obli­ga­tions of com­pa­nies to en­sure their op­er­a­tors are pro­fi­cient us­ing the gear they are sup­plied and lif ting the loads they are re­quired to lif t. How­ever, the the­ory com­po­nent is re­quired and it is crit­i­cal for un­der­stand­ing good prac­tice. Adding lan­guage and lit­er­acy op­tions closes the loop and helps op­er­a­tors that strug­gle with English to be cer­tain that they are re­ceiv­ing the same level of knowl­edge that na­tive speak­ers re­ceive.

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