Technical English: How to Overcome Language Barriers in IT

Navigating a career in the I.T. industry without a native level of technical English is tricky, but not impossible. As the universal language of the technical world, you’re bound to encounter many interactions. Naturally, many of us in the I.T. sector are happy to write code and solve glitches for hours on end without much external communication, and we get it! It’s a peaceful life doing what you do best. However, this will ultimately require you to use your English skills. You need to be able to effectively communicate with clients and team members alike. This is an extremely valued asset in the technical sector, so give yourself a leg up and boost your language skills! 

You may be wondering: Why is English important in the I.T. industry, anyway? 

A happy team Building a skillset

Well, the list is endless, really. 

English is useful in the industry in order to communicate globally with the likes of international clients or team members. You’ll also need access to various technical resources and information to be able to advance in your career. Though a lot of these processes can be aided by translation devices and other interpretative resources, it’s vital that you’re involved and informed when it comes to your work. Possessing proficiency in the lingua franca will be crucial to achieving that. Not all language is created equal, so to speak. There may be a large level of variance between vocabulary in your mother tongue, and its English equivalent. 

It’s important to keep learning in the ever-changing world of I.T. That’s why we have a couple of tips to help you deal with language barriers in your career, starting today. So, say goodbye to Google Translate and hello to more effective, natural communication. 


1. Plain language for Technical English

Sometimes, being a Plain Jane has its benefits…

Don’t make life harder for yourself! You may be tempted to sound knowledgeable when speaking with clients and teammates. Don’t over-complicate your language in an attempt to do so. While it may seem tempting to make use of your elaborate vocabulary, this might confuse others. It may also increase your likelihood of making a mistake. It’s also important to remember that direct translation is a big ‘no-no’! Although something seems natural in your mother tongue, it may not make sense to an English speaker when directly translated.  Similarly, stay away from acronyms, abbreviations, or any other complicated jargon that may confuse others.

Though English is used as the lingua franca in the I.T. world, those in the industry come from all over the world, so you can expect a varying level of proficiency from person to person. For this reason, it’s best to stick to clear, understandable language that everyone can comprehend. Trust us- you can sound just as intelligent and competent when you voice things in a plain, simple, and uncomplicated manner. By doing this, you will save time and maximize efficiency, avoiding miscommunication and clarification issues. You’ll also avoid any technical errors, as simple language will help to minimize ambiguity and will ensure that tasks are performed as required. Simplicity is key. 


2. Clarification & Technical English

It’s time to get crystal clear!

Another crucial step to overcoming language barriers in I.T. is clarification. Within the technical world, there is little room for inaccuracy, with precision being a vital component of success. Even the smallest of communication errors could lead to massive software issues, causing hours of tedious troubleshooting and big-fixing. Clarifying tasks and requirements beforehand, and double-checking that miscommunication will not occur, can save you time, effort, and a whole lot of stress!

Clarification is equally as important to prevent a problem, as it is to solve it. Effective communication starts with using simplified language. This will help to understand the root cause of a problem, and what is required to fix it. This is useful when dealing with colleagues and clients alike! And will ensure that problem-solving is carried out as quickly and smoothly as possible, leading to credibility and trust in the company. This will also help to maximize efficiency within project work, and hence create a stronger team. Clarification can also help avoid a number of issues related to documentation, such as manuals, programs, or project plans, ensuring that all involved members are on the same page. 


3. External resources for English Learning

Get creative!

There are so many amazing resources to help you in overcoming language obstacles in the workplace. With so many materials at our fingertips, we can minimize language mishaps by a significant amount.

In terms of learning English as you work, I.T. professionals can make use of apps like Duolingo or Linguee in order to revise the basics and maintain or improve general English. Youtube, TikTok, and Instagram are also wonderful resources when it comes to learning more vocabulary and native phrases. Of course, a class with a native tutor is always a preferable option, as you can focus on your weak points and choose what you want to hone in on. At Everywhere English, we can help you to dramatically improve your language skills, focusing on the vocabulary which is crucial in your specific role. 

When it comes to putting the language into practice, it’s a great idea to make use of language exchange platforms, where you can chat with native English speakers, in exchange for talking with them in your native language. It’s also useful to make use of any networking opportunities, seminars, or courses so you can chat with other professionals through English, gaining confidence and building skills. 

You can also make small changes to your social media feed, following English-speaking accounts from figures in the technical industry, in order to get to grips with the correct terminology and how it’s used! 


4. Technical skills

Play to your strengths.

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be able to communicate with clients and colleagues through a universal language. Remember that your unique skills, knowledge, and experience are just as valuable. Fortunately, many companies are happy to support your language learning, if they feel that you already possess the core skills for the job.

The I.T. industry is one of constant learning, upskilling, and advancement. Those in the tech industry must consistently stay up to date with the latest trends, software, and tools. Becoming an expert in your area in I.T. will help to draw attention away from language issues, allowing you to slowly but surely improve your linguistic skills, while you wow your team and clients on the technical side of things. 

Similarly, working on your soft skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, flexibility, and critical thinking can help to maintain your status as a valuable employee and asset to the team. Though perfecting your English is a worthy goal and one you should continue pursuing, don’t let your linguistic downfalls stand in the way of your career opportunities, as you will have plenty of time to work on your English once you land the job. And of course, one of our teachers at Everywhere English will be more than happy to get you there!

Learning technical English online

And that’s it! Simplify your language and start emphasizing your expertise in your area. Then, you’ll be able to overcome a large number of language barriers in your job. Remember: you are capable, qualified, and knowledgeable. Don’t let miscommunication become an obstacle in letting these star qualities shine through.  Of course, in the constantly evolving world of technical jargon, you will never stop learning! So, book a class with one of our native teachers to keep your I.T. terminology relevant and up-to-date.


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