No stranger to controversy, Sports Direct has scored another own goal after banning staff from speaking Welsh at its store in Bangor, north Wales.

Sports Direct tried to blame health and safety, but banning the official language of Wales? It would be like telling French workers in Paris that they had to speak English! Utter nonsense.

Here’s what they said once the media starting reporting:

“Sports Direct issued a notice to all stores in the UK on our language policy. It was intended to ensure that all staff, who attended briefings on health and safety and other important issues, fully understood the content of these communications. English is the most common language used by our multi lingual staff, and therefore, the most likely to be understood by all.

“This notice was not intended to restrict the use of the Welsh language, or prohibit staff from communicating in their local language, outside these briefings or with customers. We will be reviewing the wording of the notice to ensure this is made clearer and re-issuing an updated notice. We are an International business and fully support the use of the local language in all our jurisdictions.

“We apologise for any misunderstanding or upset this notice has caused.”

Indeed, but hang on: “English is the most common language used by our multi lingual staff, and therefore, the most likely to be understood by all.” If you’re going to blame health and safety – ‘most likely’ isn’t good enough.

How about encouraging staff to speak English without telling them they cannot use their native language? And if you are going to meet your statutory responsibility toward health and safety, be sure staff understand.

Here at VICI Language Dynamics we are often working with hotels who understand and welcome staff with a host of native languages. Having staff who speak different languages can be useful when visitors from relevant countries visit.

However, a growing number of hotels are recognising that if your staff are fluent in English in addition to their own language, your team become formidable at making guests feel truly welcome.

As with any business we support, we first seek to understand the precise language needs a hotel needs; for example, we can audit staff to establish differing language abilities before tailoring training and can work closely with HR departments. With native speaking trainers and online training through our iVICI platform, we can fit training around work schedules.

We know that trained staff will feel valued and retention improves, often slowing the relative churn of hotel workers and ensuring the training truly helps staff look after guests.

VICI Language Dynamics can also support businesses, not least within the hospitality sector, when you are recruiting staff where the ability to be fluent in a language is vital. Our native speakers can interview shortlisted candidates and report back, or even participate in the interviews.

Do talk to us to discuss your needs and you can be confident, we speak your language.