In the culturally diverse landscape of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region, effective capacity building in bilingual settings is essential for fostering collaboration, understanding, and progress. This blog explores the nuances of capacity building in such a multicultural context, emphasising three key aspects: the unique context of the ECOWAS region, the importance of adequate interpretation services and tools, and the significance of selecting facilitators mindful of cultural diversity and dress codes.
The ECOWAS region boasts unparalleled cultural diversity, encompassing 15 member states with over 250 distinct languages spoken. This rich tapestry of cultures and languages necessitates a nuanced approach to capacity building. Acknowledging the unique historical, social, and linguistic backgrounds of each member state is fundamental to fostering effective communication and collaboration. Embracing this diversity, rather than viewing it as a challenge, is the first step towards successful capacity building.
- Ensuring adequate interpretation services
In a bilingual setting, accurate interpretation services play a pivotal role in bridging linguistic gaps. Firstly, utilising professional interpreters proficient in both official languages, English and French, is crucial, it is equally important to consider their experience and knowledge of the subject matter being discussed. Additionally, investing in advanced interpretation tools, such as real-time translation software and high-quality audio systems, enhances the effectiveness of communication during capacity-building events. For in-person training, interpreters can use a variety of methods to deliver their services such as simultaneous interpretation; for online training, interpreters can use video conferencing platforms or Zoom to deliver their services. Participants must be aware that provision was made for interpretation, and they must be given adequate guidelines on how to access the interpretation services. These tools facilitate smooth conversations and create an inclusive atmosphere where participants can actively engage, ensuring that language barriers do not hinder the learning experience.
Secondly, participants should be conscious that interpreters are at work, and thus speak at an appropriate pace. It is important to have an appropriate pace when speaking because it shows consideration for the interpreters and demonstrates that the person intervening understands the complexity of interpretation work helping to avoid repetition and allowing them to maintain their concentration and provide high-quality interpretation throughout the event.
- Selection of facilitators and participants
When selecting facilitators for capacity-building events in the ECOWAS region, it is imperative to consider the diversity of cultures and dress codes prevalent in the participating countries. Facilitators should be chosen not only for their expertise but also for their cultural sensitivity and understanding. Awareness of and respecting cultural norms, including appropriate dress codes, fosters mutual respect and rapport between facilitators and participants. This, in turn, creates an inclusive environment where attendees feel valued and understood, enhancing the overall learning experience.
The selection of participants is key to the relevance of the training. A few points should be considered while selecting, the diversity (gender, age, country, background), the assessment of the training needs of these participants, selection criteria, provide online forms or surveys for application. Participants should be aware of the training’s objectives and expectations.
Capacity building in bilingual settings within the ECOWAS region presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. By embracing the cultural diversity of the member states, ensuring the availability of top-notch interpretation services and tools, and selecting facilitators mindful of the region’s varied cultures and dress codes, organizations can create a conducive learning environment. These efforts not only bridge language gaps but also promote cross-cultural understanding and collaboration. In doing so, ECOWAS member states can harness the full potential of their collective knowledge and expertise, driving sustainable development and prosperity across the region. At the end of the training, seek feedback on the effectiveness of the training from participants and use this feedback to adapt to future programs or training.