6 ways to prepare Spanish speakers to work in hotels

Spanish is the primary language for many employees in the hospitality industry, but quite often training materials are only provided in English. In order to properly prepare Spanish-speaking employees to work in a hospitality environment, it’s important to offer training in Spanish. However, when it comes to e-learning, not all Spanish courses are created equally. Here are six things to look for in an effective and immersive Spanish course:

1. Optimized for translation

An effective Spanish translation starts with an English course that is designed with translation in mind. Jargon, slang or expressions that are specific to a particular culture will not translate clearly and should be avoided. Similarly, English abbreviations or acronyms will not make as much sense when translated into Spanish. The best translated courses were planned, written and designed with translation in mind so the text is primed for the translator and the design utilizes techniques that cross cultural borders.

2. Closed captions

Closed captions are becoming more popular, but they’re not always optimized for learning. Many courses use captions that are no more than a big, static block of text that isn’t timed to the action on screen. Effective closed captioning should be broken down into small bites synced to the narration and the specific content the learner is engaging with. For learners who prefer to read, this creates a more immersive experience and prevents reading ahead without paying attention to the course.

E-learning courses need to emphasize immersion over all else.

3. Optional captions

Everyone learns differently–what is helpful for one learner may be just the opposite for another. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure your courses’ captions are optional. Some learners will retain more information from reading along with the course while others will find the text to be a distraction and a hindrance to their learning. Having this optional feature will ensure that all of your learners get the most out of their training.

4. Narration

While many courses claim to be “available in Spanish,” often these courses are narrated in English, with the only Spanish appearing in the subtitles.  This mix of two different languages appearing simultaneously can lead to a disjointed and even confusing experience for the learner. By making sure your course is narrated in Spanish, you ensure that your material and information are communicated clearly.

Getting your message across to employees is best achieved when they are as comfortable as possible.

5. Onscreen text

Onscreen text is meant to support and emphasize your key message, and that cannot be achieved if language is a barrier.  Translating all on-screen text, as well as any supporting activities and quizzes, helps ensure your message is received.

6. Hospitality setting and terminology

Your employees won’t be working in a warehouse, so their training courses shouldn’t take place in one. Viewing course examples in a familiar hospitality setting, with properly translated terminology, will help employees understand how their training is applied to their real-world job. There are a lot of important factors to look for when selecting a Spanish e-learning course, but with a bit of extra care you can be sure your courses really “habla Español.”

Jeff Tenut is founder and VP of solution design, DiscoverLink, and Christine Andrews is VP of human resources, Hostmark Hospitality Group. Both are active members of the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers.