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June 2017
| Issue #8

Facilitating multi-language groups with OpenCards

By Hector Villarreal

As facilitators, we often use supporting materials to start conversations and engage our participants in conversations. Sometimes, however, in multi-cultural and multi-language groups, we can come across a few hurdles like words that highly specialised or complicated to translate. To help us jump over those hurdles, a Colombian group of facilitators has come up with a solution. They’ve created OpenCards - a method that includes two or even three languages on the same card.

Breaking down communication barriers

The cards can be used to develop conversations with different methodologies. They have been used for focus group discussions, business strategy sessions, critical area reviews or feedback programmes. The cards also feature graphics or images to represent the concept, which helps improve communication and increase engagement and comprehension of the issue being discussed.

Recently, when working with a multinational NGO with representatives from the Americas and Europe, language represented a difficulty when identifying the challenges. The cards allowed them to minimise misunderstandings and enable very fruitful discussions.

How are OpenCards used?

The cards were recently used to identify the culture of a small financial company. The cards allowed the 40+ employees, in groups of around 8 participants, to engage in a conversation about the good and bad elements of the current culture. Participants selected the cards they felt represented the high and low points of the culture and were able to explain what behaviours they had seen in the day-to-day operations. This allowed the participants to write an action plan to improve non-desirable behaviours or reinforce desirable ones.

Conversation Cards

OpenCards has now created some ice-breaker cards called Conversation Cards. These are for light and deep tête-à-têtes between the participants. This enhances their conversations and knowledge of each other in a practical and efficient way.

More about OpenCards