What do employers and managers say about communicating with new migrants?

Watch this short video to see NZ employers and managers talking about communicating with new migrants in the workplace.

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Worktalk - Intro (Employer) (2:04min)

My name’s Paul Dunning, I work here at Print Link. The biggest challenge in our workplace for a new migrant coming in here is that in any one job we might have forty or fifty people that are involved in the production of it. So there’s a lot of people, I guess all with different accents and all with different ways of expressing something.

I’m Andrew Clapham, I’m leading a programme of work for the New Zealand Government. I took on a skilled migrant at Maritime New Zealand last year and one of the challenges was just every-day communication and understanding the Kiwi way of speaking if you like. Communicating um . . . with her was very literal er . . and using every-day Kiwi language was often quite funny really because the skilled migrant would take things literally. And so I really learned very quickly that there was a need to slow down and be patient and not use er . . . terms or phrases like “Have you got a handle on that?” or “Are you . . Do you feel on top of that?”

You know “Chuck it on the press now,” or “Throw it in there” or “Chuck it in that box” or “No, she’ll be right.” To us, we know exactly what they mean, but to a new migrant they’re vague.

There was a quizzical response, a quizzical look about what that might have meant.

Some of the issues we’ve come across here are um . . . people not doing exactly what it is that we wanted them to do and um . . . it generally boils down to clear instruction both ways. So, what I tend to do now is I’ll ask the person what it was that they think I’m asking them to do, um . . . so that I can hear back from them what they’ve understood.

Ok, so if I had any tips for any employers thinking of taking on a skilled migrant they would be: Be patient when communicating, and um . . . depending on the grasp of the English language that the intern or skilled migrant may have, you may need to slow down and adjust your delivery, er . . . adjust the way you communicate, but have fun doing it. It’s challenging but rewarding at the same time.

Developed by Immigration New Zealand in collaboration with the Language in the Workplace Team, School of Linguistics & Applied Language Studies, Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington.

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Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington’s Language in the Workplace Project investigates effective communication in the New Zealand workplace.

Read more about this project

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Immigration New Zealand also funds a free service for new migrants providing information about living in New Zealand for example, where to find a doctor, how to choose a school, understanding the health system, and clubs and community groups to join.

Information for new migrants

For information about learning English visit the New Zealand Now website, or call free 0508 558 885 (for help in your own language ask for “Language Line”).