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Overcome Language Barriers in the Canadian Workplace

50 English Work Idioms Every Expat Should Know

In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome . They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

4 Tips to Overcome Language Barriers in the Canadian Workplace

Canada's work culture thrives on the richness of its ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity. However, newcomers often grapple the professional challenge of having to communicate in their second (or even third or fourth) language.

Here are 4 effective and practical strategies for overcoming language barriers in the workplace

1. Immerse Yourself at Work 💻
Fluency demands practice. Engage in workplace conversations, both professional and casual – and ask questions about language! Start with trusted colleagues and gradually expand interactions. Initial shyness is normal, so build confidence with small group conversations before tackling larger ones.

2. Listen to Professional Podcasts 🎙
Professional podcasts offer a low-stress way to grasp conversational speech. Start by listening for the general idea, then revisit specific sections to jot down interesting vocabulary and sentence structures. Try the language learning technique of shadowing to mimic pronunciation and intonation.

3. Work with a Language Tutor 📚
Tutors have the benefit of offering personalized guidance on vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation, tailoring the learning experience to address your specific needs.

4. Keep a Language Journal ✏️
Keep a language journal to monitor progress and document new words. Engage in stream-of-consciousness writing in your target language for about 10 minutes to uncover vocabulary gaps. This practice not only serves as a progress tracker but also helps you ask more targeted questions in your discussions with language tutors, ensuring a more efficient and personalized learning journey.

Navigating New Horizons with Expert Guidance from a Seasoned Career Coach

Q: What key advice would you provide to someone overcoming language barriers in Canada?

1. Actively engage in conversations
2. Seek feedback
3. Establish language exchange partnerships with colleagues
4. Utilize workplace training program
5. Attend networking events to expand vocabulary and understanding
6. Explore online language platforms tailored for professional communication 
7. Regularly reflect on progress
8. Celebrate achievements
9. Set realistic goals for continuous improvement


Participate in our weekly poll for international job seekers navigating the Canadian job market. Sharing your insights will help us understand and address your challenges effectively.

Which aspect of language learning do you find most challenging in the workplace?

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Elevate Your Career with Essential Wisdom

Carol Dweck's "Mindset" delves into fixed versus growth mindsets, showcasing how one's belief about abilities influences success. Fixed mindsets view traits as static, while growth mindsets see them as developable through effort. Emphasizing the power of dedication and resilience, Dweck argues that cultivating a growth mindset leads to a more fulfilling and successful life, with implications for learning, achievement, and personal development.

Sound More Polite When Asking Questions at Work

Asking the right questions is a significant factor in achieving success in the workplace, and it’s important to strike the right tone. Today, we’re going to teach you how to structure INDIRECT QUESTIONS – questions that begin with tags like “Do you know,” “Could you tell me,” or “Can you find out” to make them more polite and less abrupt.

This will not only help you with accuracy scores on the IELTS exam but also help you to communicate more effectively with colleagues.

Sentence Structures

  • Affirmative structure: The meeting starts at 9:15. 

  • Questions structure: Does the meeting start at 9:15?

  • Direct question structure: When does the meeting start?

  • Indirect question structure: Do you know when the meeting starts?

Let’s Break it Down

Notice what happened in the indirect question structure? 

  1. We added the question tag, “Do you know”.

  2. Since we’re asking about the time, we added our time question word “when”. 

  3. We followed it up with the AFFIRMATIVE sentence structure (see sentence structures above). 

“Do you know” + question word the affirmative structure +?

Do you know + when the meeting starts +?

Common Mistake Alert!

Incorrect: "Do you know when does the meeting start? "

Instead of following up “Do you know” and “when” with the AFFIRMATIVE structure, they follow it with the QUESTION structure. This is a common mistake because other languages may have a more consistent word order between the affirmative and question structures, while English adds “do” or “does”. 

A Few Other Indirect Questions You Can Ask

Could you tell me what the report focuses on?
Instead of: What does the report focus on?

Can you find out why the marketing campaign ends in December?
Instead of: Why does the marketing campaign end in December?

Could you show me how the sales team completes their reports?
Instead of: How does the sales team complete their reports? 

Don’t forget to practice! Use the question tags we provided to come up with your own indirect questions.

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The Impact of Language Barriers on Safety and How to Address it Read more

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