10 Apr 2018 By: Jessica Eyre
Leaving one’s family behind to move to another country is hard enough; when we add second language learning and university coursework to the mix, we can see how foreign language students might struggle to feel connected to and stay engaged in our schools. How can we eliminate this barrier? How can we help foreign language students feel at home and be successful?
HelpSquad has an answer: auto translation. When foreign language students turn to live chat to ask a question on their school’s website, HelpSquad automatically translates any foreign chat requests in real time. This software is offered in numerous languages, so no matter your students’ native languages, they will always have the comfort of familiarity to help them feel right at home. This will foster positive feelings about your institution, help avoid miscommunication, and encourage scholarly success.
Positive Feelings and Feedback about Your Institution
Before we talk about foreign language, let’s just mention how helpful live chat is in general. Live chat benefits you and your students! Here are a couple of reasons:
- It’s convenient for students and allows them to multitask
- Your students want and need 24/7 live support (one survey found that 56 percent of respondents ages 18 to 34 preferred live chat to calling in)
- Chat transcriptions make it easy for students to review the answers they received
- It’s cost effective for you
- It gives you great insight into how your website is doing and what it may be lacking
So now let’s talk about why these reasons are even more important for foreign language students.
Depending on how proficient in your language each foreign language student is, they may already be putting in a lot of extra time and effort to understand their school work, the culture, and the way your school operates. Live chat means they don’t have to wait in any lines–they get instant help in their first language.
We all want our schools to be inclusive and have welcoming atmospheres. Offering amenities and accommodations make for a more comfortable and smooth-sailing experience for all students but especially for foreign language students.
Live chat often feels like a real conversation because of how instantaneous it is. Unfortunately, that can mean it’s easy for website visitors to forget what they’ve learned, especially if they struggle with the language. HelpSquad offers two features that mitigate this problem. First, auto translate, which means that students always get to converse in their preferred language, so they’ll have a better chance of understanding. Second, transcriptions–which are always sent to the student immediately after the conversation is over–allow them to review what they learned with ease.
According to a 2012 report, “Intercultural miscommunication occurs when there is a breakdown in communication between speakers of two different cultures and languages due to cultural differences and/or sociolinguistic transfer.” Whether students are asking about graduation requirements, upcoming activities, or anything in between, it’s important that they are able to receive clear communication.
The report goes on to say that intercultural communication “is not simply information being transferred from one to another but also a way to create and preserve social relationships.” Auto translate helps create stronger social relationships between foreign language students and their school by avoiding miscommunication that could occur if both parties weren’t on the same page.
“Learning is improved when students are able to build upon what they already know,” said Joe Levitan, an educator experienced with bilingual students. “Students who are learning English will learn that language better, along with other subjects, if they also learn in their first languages simultaneously.”
While Levitan is speaking of elementary school students in the school setting, the principle applies to university students and other contexts, too. HelpSquad chat can be available on your website and Facebook page, and students can ask questions on a wide range of topics. When universities support foreign language students by making second-language translations available, it can make acclimating and succeeding in school for these students that much easier.
HelpSquad’s auto translate feature makes a world of difference to foreign language students. It fosters positive feelings about your institution, helps avoid miscommunication, and encourages scholarly success. That’s a win-win-win for you and your students!