Hello! – Speaking Words of Welcome

Starting conversations with people we don’t know can be challenging and more so if their first language is different from ours. However a simple but warm ‘hello’ can be greatly appreciated by people who are new and the starting point for building friendships and understanding. Saying“Hello” can make a big difference in someone’s life. If they do not speak English well, saying “Hello” might mean even more. 

Tips for showing welcome to people who may have little English

  1. Acknowledge people; verbally and non-verbally, smile and say ‘Hello’.
  2. Ask and learn people’s names, including the correct pronunciation and their name preference.
  3. Speak slowly, clearly and calmly. Be aware of background noise.
  4. Use plain English, avoid jargon and colloquialisms.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask if you have been understood and to repeat what you have said, perhaps in different words.
  6. It may be appropriate to speak more than ask questions. People who are learning a language always understand more than they can say.
  7. Include a friend; a 3-way conversation can be easier to keep flowing.
  8. Be prepared to provide information and advice, if asked, on local services and facilities (e.g. schools, GPs, language classes etc), but do not give specialist advice on topics such as benefits or
    immigration status.
  9. Take an interest in the first language of newcomers and learn some greetings.
  10. Be patient, be sensitive and remember that communication includes body language and gestures.

A pdf of this list is available here

Also, see our leaflet Hear My Voice 1 As simple as “Hello”

EMBRACE has prepared a number of resources which can be used to show welcome across language difference. 

EMBRACE Welcome Poster  – Available for download or from our office.
A Word of Welcome a booklet with commonly used words and phrases of greeting in 20 languages (Arabic, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Czech, Farsi, Filipino, French, Hindi, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Somali, Spanish, Tetum). Available for download or from our office.

Also available  from our office: Say a word of welcome  – words of greeting and pronunciation tips, on a small ‘business card’. Available in Arabic, Lithuanian, Mandarin, Romanian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese and Somali languages.