top of page

Tips for Training Employees with a Language Barrier

Cleaning crew holding cleaning equipment; vacuum, broom, mop, etc.

Language barriers make employee training more challenging. Here are a few tips that can help you overcome language barriers with your cleaners.  

As a BSC, you will likely have to manage and train some employees who speak no or limited English. Here are a few tips to help you train all your employees, whatever their English proficiency level.  

Make It Visual

Coworkers reading sticky notes on the wall.

Use pictures, videos, and physical demonstrations to teach employees how to properly use equipment and software. 


If you’re struggling to translate your organization’s practice into a visual medium, use an airplane safety video as your inspiration.  

Another universal visual strategy is color coding. You can use colors on equipment, signs, and bottles of cleaning supplies to indicate danger (red), lesser degree of hazard (yellow), caution (orange), and safe (green).  


Some information cannot be conveyed with hand gestures or pictures, no matter how hard we try. For that, seek out a task management software that offers translation into the most common languages your staff are comfortable in.  


Simplify the way you train. Instead of having your cleaners come in to read a bunch of papers with instructions, bring them out to have hands-on practice with equipment and cleaning techniques.

Show them what you want and need, and then have them do it themselves as you observe their performance. Demonstrate it again as often as needed until they can do it successfully. Repetition is key.

Language Learning

Three books on a table with a piggy bank wearing glasses. The letters "ESL" are on the books.

If you have the means to do so, you could also provide your employees with opportunities to attend English as a Second Language (ESL) classes outside of work. If that isn’t possible, there are still a few things you can do, like encouraging your employees to learn vocabulary relevant to the tasks they’ll be completing, like the names of cleaning solutions they’re using.

Learning vocabulary related to their tasks will help your employees who speak different languages communicate with others and help them feel more confident working for you.

Invest in Bilingual Team Members

When you identify a team member who is bilingual, consider promoting them to manager or trainer. Investing in employees encourages them to stick around, and a supervisor who speaks their language is going to make new employees more productive and more comfortable.  

Remember that just because some of your employees may face a language barrier, it doesn’t mean they are any less hard-working or dedicated.

Otuvy can improve your business’s communication and productivity! Learn how.


bottom of page