By Tom Wells on Jul 9, 2019 5:50:00 AM
How Language Barriers Can Affect Your Career
As a non-native software developer, you face many challenges. One of the main ones is communication. So, we asked our software developer students what their biggest language struggles are. We wanted to create a practical guide that offers solutions to the most pressing language problems.
If you want to read more about what you can do to overcome these challenges, check out our new guide, created especially for non-native software developers, just like you.
Our research shows that the following are some of the main language challenges that you will encounter. Can you relate to any of these?
1. It’s harder to land your dream job
This may seem a little surprising particularly in a field like software development that mainly requires technical skills. But while technical skills are important, English communication skills are still critical to land your dream job. Why?
The cultural fit interview stage at top companies like PayPal and Google focus on collaboration and communicative ability. They know that the software teams that perform the best are the ones that can collaborate with each other really well. Whether it’s sprint planning, explaining technical decisions or reporting to key stakeholders, great communication lies at the heart of successful project work.
And as English is the lingua franca in the world of technology and software development, English skills are one of the most sought-after soft skills, particularly when recruiting non-native speakers.
There are other reasons, too. Unfortunately, cultural bias (sometimes referred to as accent bias, or native speaker bias) can make it harder for non-native speakers. This is a type of unconscious bias that causes native speakers to prefer candidates that speak like they do. A foreign accent can lead a recruiter to judge your performance as worse than it actually is (check out this Forbes article for many empirical examples of this).
2. You’re less likely to get an internal promotion
As a non-native speaker, it is actually less likely that you will get an internal promotion. Why? Enter bias once again. The tests used to assess your performance in a job are usually designed by native speakers.
This inherently means they are biased towards them. Even if your technical skills are excellent, the truth is that your grammar mistakes and foreign accent may unfairly count against you. While companies claim to treat everyone equally, these unconscious biases still pervade the industry.
3. Coding in your own language limits your reach
Coding in your own language may be more comfortable than coding in English. In fact, if you work on a monolingual team it can even speed up your workflow and feel more natural. But there is a major downside. If you write your user docs and READMEs in a language other than English, it severely limits the reach of your awesome projects. Users in the global coding community mainly ask questions in English and also expect to read project docs in English, too.
Not only this but you can’t really add these projects to your international portfolio because only speakers of your own language will understand. With less user engagement in your side projects, and documentation in a language other than English, it’s much harder for you to sell yourself to international companies.
4. You can’t make your voice heard on a project
Collaboration on a project relies on your ability to communicate. You need to constantly assess the situation and communicate this to other stakeholders. So as a non-native speaker it can be harder to deal with a product owner, scrum master or project manager as English is not your first language. Often explaining your exact reasoning for something is a tricky task. But in another language it’s even harder. The result: it’s harder to make your voice heard in the larger team and more difficult to get your projects approved.
If you are feeling like this is happening to you, get in touch with us and we’ll tell you how Talaera can help you.
How you can overcome these challenges
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are practical ways to overcome these language challenges. In fact, committing to boosting your communication ability is one of the best ways to boost your chances of landing your dream job.
Our brand new English Guide for Software Developers combines our own expertise and key insights from our students to provide practical strategies to overcome these challenges.
Downloading this guide can help you make a roadmap to landing your dream software development job. The guide includes:
- The key communication challenges for non-native software developers
- The benefits of great communication skills
- Practical strategies to overcome these challenges from our experts
Talaera is an online platform that provides one-on-one English language training, anytime, anywhere, with 100% personalized lessons, HD video quality, and qualified teachers that will help you achieve your learning goals.
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