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Language in international CoPs July 16, 2007

Posted by bill in cp2portugal07, dialog, Reflections.

One of our sessions was about the question of language and communication in  international CoPs (particularly online).

Ueli described the issues he faced with a community working in English but where members had a variety of first languages and communication in English was often a problem. One approach being attempted in Switzerland involves coaching from a language coach to help participants participate more effectively.

Bill had worked with people on a Mozambican online training course which functioned in Portuguese but when it came to participants taking part in a South African online conference in their field (Social Inclusion) they found it very difficult to become part of the English-speaking community. Beverly is presently developing an online community space for CIARIS/ILO which is expected to function bilingually in English and Portugese.

That being said, the use of online translation tools to help communication between Portuguese speakers of the Theka community and anglophone Cpsquare members helped more than I for one expected. On the other hand, many of the Theka people were already pretty at home with English and the level of communication was mainly social in the ramp-up to the 2-day workshop.

One possibility which was mentioned was to build a domain-related language data-base. This could be justified, perhaps, for a community which was expected to function over a longish period and where the key terminology would be relatively circumscribed. A good example of this approach in action can be found at the website of Proz the freelance translators CoP who use a kudos-based reputation system with daily challenges thrown up by working members to build a bank of translations of specialist domain words and phrases into a variety of languages. Example:


Could this approach be adapted to the kind of situation Ueli describes? Would it be useful to consult with the Proz community on this?


Bill Williams



1. btrayner - July 18, 2007

Bill, I am also fascinated by the potential of tag clusters (tag clusters which would work well with a bank of translations of specialist domain words.

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