Australia might be commonly known as the land down under to the public, but many Filipinos consider Australia as their workplace. Australia is among the best choices for Overseas Filipino workers, mainly because the distance from the Philippines is less than a 12-hour direct flight. This means cheaper flight tickets if ever OFWs decide to go home and visit their loved ones, and because of seat sales, it could also be the other way around.
There are many reasons why Pinoys opt to work in Australia. The country’s strong economy tops the list, followed by the nation’s reputation for offering good working conditions. According to 2021 Census data, there are now 408,842 people with Filipino ancestry in Australia. Filipinos are the third largest Asian Australian immigrant group behind Chinese Australians and Indian Australians.
Since Australia is a predominantly English-speaking country and Filipinos are well-equipped to converse in English, you’d think there would be no bottlenecks with communication. Well, that’s not entirely the case. Language barriers still happen in the workplace for Filipinos in Australia, and a lot of them have a lot to do with nonverbal communication.
Language barriers can make immigrants or refugees feel isolated and anti-social since they struggle with speaking and comprehending the language. This hopeless feeling also makes them a target of workplace bullying. So, here are ways on how to overcome language barriers that both employers and employees should take note.
Our society continues to be increasingly diverse, so it’s almost a guarantee that there will be some cultural discrepancy in the workplace. When working alongside people of diverse cultures, it’s necessary to make room for adjustments, learning, and camaraderie to ensure a healthy working environment.
Australian English is relatively consistent across the continent, although some encompass several regional and sociocultural varieties. Just like the Philippines, Australia has its dialects in some regions of the country, and they also have a language used by their indigenous people. Luckily, Filipinos are flexible and can quickly adapt to their environment. Resiliency is at the core of Filipino people, and this has propelled Pinoys working across the globe to strive hard and adapt.
Australians are very direct with how they speak—something Filipinos are not used to since Pinoys tend to beat around the bush to soften the blow to not offend anyone. Punctuality is also important to Australians. People in Australia value time, so they stick to the scheduled meetings and engagements. This is a stark contrast to the ‘Filipino time’ concept, so you must respect the designated time of appointments.
Slangs are a perfect example of language barriers in communication, and Australians love their slang. They might love it a little too much sometimes. It’s more than adding the word “mate” at the end of their sentences when it comes to Aussie slang. Non-native speakers might find it confusing initially, but with a bit of repetition and exposure, you’ll soon find yourself using them in informal or even formal settings.
Here are some Aussie slangs in the workplace that can help you ease in:
● Arvo – Afternoon
● Bludger – a lazy person who avoids work
● Whinger – someone who complains a lot
● Chuck a sickie – calling in sick for the day but is actually in perfect health
● Giving 110% – going above and beyond your work
● Slammed – busy or swamped with work
● Smoko – cigarette break
● Buggered – exhausted
● Lappy – laptop
● No wucka – a very Australian way to say “no worries.”
● Hard yakka – a very Australian way of ‘” hard work.”
Despite speaking English, the Australian accent can sometimes cause language barriers too. Some accents are thicker than others, depending on where you are in Australia. So how does one overcome language barriers?
If your job requires you to speak directly with Australian customers, then consider getting language training to adapt to the nature of your work. Start with using simple English with co-workers to avoid a lapse in communication. Miscommunication, when it comes to cultural differences, can lead to conflict. Try to speak slower than usual, so you and your colleague can be on the same page.
Keep an open mind about learning and respect the culture in which you are immersed. If you require help in translating documents or clarifying some Aussie jargon, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Australian culture allows people to express their opinions easily, so your manager will appreciate it more that you are trying to find the underlying cause of an issue.
When dealing with non-native English speakers, you can use visual aids to relay your message. Utilize technology and use photos, videos, or even translation apps to ensure everyone interprets the news the same way.
The Philippines is one of Australia’s longest-standing bilateral relationships. In 2021, both countries celebrated 75 years of diplomatic ties. Now that the world is regaining its footing from the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, international recruitment to Australia is also slowly heating up.
Australia recognizes the need to adapt to its culturally diverse workforce and has imposed regulatory measures to curb language and cultural barriers. Under Australian law, discrimination against a person’s accent is unlawful under the Racial Discrimination Act if linked to a person’s race or ethnic origin.
There’s no guidebook regarding language barrier problems and solutions, especially in the workplace. No matter what communication channels we use, the biggest challenge will be the inability to understand what others want to say. Workplace language barriers can make people unproductive and even lead to business losses.
With all these tips on how to overcome language barriers at the workplace, combined with the adaptability and English proficiency of Filipinos, you can be confident to make them part of your growing team. Find reliable recruitment services for top industries with Staffhouse International Resources. Contact us or follow us on our Facebook page to learn more.