Navigating Language Barriers in a restaurant. Written in text.

How to: Navigating Language Barriers in a Fast-paced Restaurant or Hotel

In any fast-paced environment, such as a restaurant or hotel, effective communication can be a challenge. For those of us whose first language is not English, it can be even more of a challenge. 

If you find yourself working in a restaurant or hotel and you need to communicate with guests who do not speak your native language, don’t worry!

There are some simple strategies you can use to help navigate the language barrier and ensure everyone is on the same page.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how to effectively communicate with guests despite a language barrier.

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The Phrases To Ask Guests To Repeat Themselves

It can be challenging to navigate language barriers when working in a fast-paced restaurant or hotel environment. With all the noise and activity, it can be easy to miss what a guest is saying, especially if English is not your first language. But don’t worry, there are some simple phrases you can use to ask guests to repeat themselves.

Here are some examples:

  1. “Sorry, would you mind saying that again for me?” This is a polite way to ask someone to repeat what they said. It shows that you are interested in what they have to say, and that you value clear communication.
  2. “I’m sorry, I misheard you. Could you please repeat that?” This is another polite way to ask for clarification. By admitting that you misheard the guest, you are showing that you take responsibility for your communication skills.
  3. “Would you be able to repeat that phrase for me a little slower, please? I just want to make sure I understand fully.” This is a more specific request for the guest to slow down and repeat what they said. It can be especially helpful if the guest has an accent or is using technical language that you are not familiar with.

Using these phrases can make a big difference in your communication with guests. Not only do they help you to better understand what the guest is saying, but they also show the guest that you are committed to providing excellent customer service.

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How to Repeat Back What The Guest Said To Confirm

Once you’ve asked the guest to repeat themselves, it’s important to confirm that you have understood them correctly. One way to do this is by repeating back what the guest has said.

This lets the guest know that you were listening attentively and that you care about understanding their needs.

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To repeat back what the guest has said, use phrases like:

“Just to confirm, you said…”
“If I heard you correctly, you’re looking for…”
“So, what I’m understanding is that you want…”

By repeating back what the guest has said, you can ensure that you have understood their request or concern. This also gives the guest the opportunity to clarify or correct any misunderstandings.

For example, if a guest says “I’d like a room with a view of the ocean”, you could repeat back by saying “Just to confirm, you’re looking for a room with a view of the ocean, is that correct?” The guest can then either confirm or correct your understanding.

It’s important to use this technique not only for the guest’s benefit, but also for your own. Misunderstandings can lead to mistakes and frustrated guests. By repeating back what the guest has said, you can avoid confusion and ensure that the guest’s needs are met.

In summary, when you are faced with a language barrier, it’s important to confirm that you have understood the guest correctly. By using simple phrases to repeat back what the guest has said, you can show that you are actively listening and avoid misunderstandings.

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What to avoid when you do not hear or understand 100%

When you don’t hear or understand a guest’s request, it’s essential to be careful about what you say and do.

Here are some things to avoid in these situations:

  1. Don’t pretend to understand: If you don’t understand what a guest is saying, don’t pretend that you do. This will only make things worse, and the guest will end up more frustrated.
  2. Don’t ignore the guest: If a guest’s request goes unheard, they may become annoyed or upset. Avoid ignoring them or hoping they will go away. Instead, apologize for not hearing them and ask them to repeat what they said.
  3. Don’t rush the conversation: It’s natural to feel stressed when you’re working in a busy environment like a restaurant or hotel. However, when a guest is speaking, take your time to understand them correctly. Rushing through a conversation will only lead to miscommunications and errors.
  4. Don’t assume: If you miss a part of a guest’s request, don’t assume you know what they meant. Clarify with them, repeat back what you heard, and ask if that’s correct.
    By avoiding these mistakes, you can make sure that the guest’s experience is as smooth and pleasant as possible, even if there is a language barrier.

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Wrapping Up & Confirming Your Understanding

After asking the guest to repeat themselves and repeating back what you understood, it’s always a good idea to wrap up the conversation and confirm your understanding.

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Here are some phrases you can use to ensure you and the guest are on the same page:

– “Thank you for your patience. Just to confirm, you said [repeat back what you understood]. Is that correct?”

– “I apologize for any confusion. To make sure I have everything right, you mentioned [repeat back what you understood]. Did I get that right?”

– “Thank you for speaking slowly and clearly. Just to clarify, you mentioned [repeat back what you understood]. Is that accurate?”

By confirming your understanding with the guest, you can avoid any misunderstandings and ensure their needs are being met.4

Remember, it’s okay to ask for clarification and to take the time to make sure you have understood everything correctly. Your guests will appreciate your effort and patience in trying to communicate effectively.


1 thoughts on “How to: Navigating Language Barriers in a Fast-paced Restaurant or Hotel

  1. Pingback: How to: Communicating with Guests Effectively When You Don’t Have All the Answers

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