Lingual and non-lingual safety training methodology effectiveness: Does language of origin impact effectiveness

William D. Johnson, S. Camille Peres, Mark E. Benden, Ranjana K. Mehta, Adam Pickens, Matthew Lee Smith, Noelle Sweany, Mallory A. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) trainings are used by global industries to mitigate risks and are often provided in a lingua franca (often English). This research investigated a strategy for overcoming language barriers associated with performance, comprehension, and training effectiveness. Non-linguistic (e.g., EU's Napo animated trainings) and English language (ENG) versions of EHS training were compared for effectiveness with native English language participants (L1), non-native English language participants (L2), and non-English language participants (L0). In the 1st study, 102 L1 & L2 U.S. employees completed one of the two trainings and were assessed on their reaction to and comprehension of the training. For this study, ENG was more effective and preferred by both language groups and this may be due to the workers' English proficiency and the number of channels of communication provided by the training medium. In the 2nd study, 78 L0 Brazilian and Chinese employees completed trainings and were assessed identically to the 1st study. For these participants, Napo training was more effective and preferred by both groups and this was likely because ENG L0 trainees had no channels for processing the information versus Napo's single channel of information. Interestingly, Brazilians in the ENG group outperformed their Chinese counterparts. Conversely, Chinese in the Napo group outperformed Brazilians in the Napo group. Though these findings are somewhat intuitive, they are extremely important for two reasons: 1) there is remarkable dearth of empirical research regarding the effects of the use of lingua franca for safety training. 2) Even though the idea of using lingua franca for training with L0 workers may seem obvious, there are a large number of international companies that use this for their EHS training. The findings from this study may provide a more effective and affordable method for some of these companies’ safety training needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103183
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • International
  • Learning
  • Lingua Franca
  • Multilingual
  • Non-lingual
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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