How do you commucate with teams when you do not speak the same language at worlds?

This is the first year my team has made it to worlds, and we do not know where to start with commucating with teams that do not speak english. I was thinking a trifold board, or having a small model of the field with moveable peices, but we do not currently have a way to talk about things like stratagy. Does anyone have any suggestions or advice? Thank you in advance!

My recommendation is to use graphic planners … you can use laminated templates from of field and whiteboard markers … have copies for each stage of competition - placement - autonomous (your start location) … also have realistic graphics for robot capabilities. and what end game plan is…

Graphics are good to have … . also use tools for translations …

It works out if you plan ahead and reach out to alliance partners for each matches ahead of time.

Also, human connection is great - compliment their robots - dont tell partners to stay out of the way… (not language dependent…) always leverage capabilities of your partner as an equal - always!

Best wishes! you are asking the right questions about how to common goals work regardless of language!


Here are the two that I have seen the most

  1. Have a printout of the field in a sheet protector so you can draw on it with a dry-erase marker
  2. Google translate

You can do so much with a whiteboard / field layout with an plastic overlay to plan. Show the field on them, draw symbol where you want to start. Let the other team pick. Draw routes, goals, etc. And this is not a language issue, this is team strategy planning. Madden VEX 2023!!! I’ve had teams use the overlays as a great success. Arrows and lines cross language boundaries every time.

Vague pointing and flailing your arm across the fields doesn’t work. A picture, a pen and you can map strategy.

This is a perfect time for @meng to jump in. His teams are awesome with English, but can help to bridge to Chinese. He will post but pay attention, his teams are strategy masters. We played with them in Covid times, they proposed, we listened, we scored.

But I’ll offer a pro tip, them not understanding you does not make them stupid. You are failing on your part to communicate. Yelling louder does not help. Anger / frustration to an alliance partner will not generate their best efforts. Pictures work every time. (Kodak Film: A picture is worth a thousand words lives today)


Thanks for the shoutout.
All Singapore students take English as the 1st language and their mother tongue as their 2nd language. So yes, while Singaporean are mainly Asian ethnically (with about 70% chinese), we are a lot more fluent and comfortable using English than in other languages.
We can do a decent job if there is a need for interpretation.
When we first started attending worlds, this was one of the “bargaining chips” that we used to get the top seeds to pick us as 2nd pick (back in those 3-teams alliance days)… lol…

But I would think that nowadays most China teams will have at least someone that can speak decent English. The tips that I can give is to slow down when speaking to them. It might take them a while to do their mental translation up inside their brains.

And oh - those tips about having overlay on the field, etc, All these are really good practices to adopt. It doesn’t matter who you are speaking to, visual aids are always the best tool to use.

Thanks for the compliments.
The US teams have an one-season heads-start over us. We only managed to resume in-person matches around last year October :frowning:
So I have been telling my teams to make sure they go over to worlds, observe and learn from the best!


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