Fiverr Community Forum

Big language barriers - how to deal?

How do you guys deal with messages from buyers with terrible English?

Due to the nature of my gig, very, very clear communication is an absolute must! I have a good bit of experience speaking with ESL people so I can generally decipher, but lately I’ve been getting offers in such broken English that I KNOW the order would be a disaster if I accepted.

Obviously I don’t want to tell them I’m declining due to their language skills, that would be terribly rude. But I’m really… not sure how to deal with this in a politely obfuscating way lol. Particularly since their language ability is already quite low, my response needs to be polite but also easy to understand.


I tell them that we are not a good fit since there is a language barrier.
I then send the cancellation request.

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Your gig is

“I Will Be Your Female Singer, Any Genre”

So what’s the problem? Do I need to speak German to hire a German singer so she can sing a German song? No, I don’t.

Some of my clients speak broken English, what do I care? As long as they give me 5-stars, they make me happy.

You think all English speakers are nice? You should see some of my recent negative reviews.


It’s that they may not understand what you tell them and never understand it. I have had a couple of buyers who thought I was offering them jobs and continued to ask when they could begin working for me. I couldn’t get them to understand what my gigs were for. One has been messaging me for months after I cast a spell for him asking me what my gig is about.


It has nothing to do with “English speakers being nice”, rather, we need clear communication so I can get specific instructions on how they want me to sing the song, if they want harmonies, if they want double tracking, there’s often a lot of musical terms involved that somegone without even basic English skills would not understand, sometimes they don’t seem to really understand what my gig is or how Fiverr works, etc.

That is a recipe for disaster on both sides - they’re not going to get what they need, I’m not going to get a good review or I may get stuck in revisions for ages. It just makes sense to be able to communicate with your buyers.

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Why not make your gig easier for potential buyers to understand? I don’t know what double tracking is and I cope alright with basic English! :wink:

If your potential buyers can’t understand what you’re offering or what you need to complete the gig, why not make it easier for them? :slightly_smiling_face:


Yes, I agree with offlinehelpers here.
Perhaps you could create another gig with a very specific description. Your current gig is basically the “I will do everything your way”, another gig with set features laid out in very simple terms would be ideal for non native speakers. The features/options in this gig should be the more commonly used, the middle-of-the-road idea.

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Or the musically illiterate!

Excellent idea having a separate simple gig! :slightly_smiling_face:

I have thus far never encountered an English speaker (even non-native) buyer who has had any difficulty understanding my gig so I don’t think that’s the problem - “double tracking” for instance is a very, very common term in any type of music production or recording. I’ve never had a customer who spoke decent English that didn’t understand what I meant, because my customers are generally musicians and producers. The only buyers that have ever had confusion were buyers with truly abysmal English - I mean ABYSMAL. I would like to avoid getting entangled with abysmal English because it often makes the gig take twice as long as it should due to miscommunication (or no communication).

My gig is very specifically “I will sing your song”, but I often get non-English speaking buyers messaging me asking me to make them an instrumental, for instance, or asking me to do voice over acting. There’s no implication whatsoever in my gig that I would provide either of those service and I politely reply and tell them that is not a service I provide, however, this is the level of English capability we’re talking about here LOL. Someone who clicks on “I will sing your song” and asks me to write them a song or play them an instrumental or do voice acting for their youtube video, and then acts confused when I say I don’t do that and sends me several messages begging me to do it - messages I have to respond to in order to maintain my response rate.

But that’s irrelevant, really - I get messages from people asking me to sing their song, that literally send me almost total gibberish. Almost completely incomprehensible - like the only reason I know they have a song they want me to sing is because they sent me the music. I can’t work with buyers who can’t even express what they want (example - “Does the song already have lyrics or would you like for me to write them myself?” “It’s a so good perhaps.” a literal exchange I had a few weeks ago LOL! No idea what they were trying to say.) I’m not going to take an order from someone whose English is THAT bad, because we’re going to have issues. I’m just trying to find a polite way to tell them I can’t do it, that they can understand.

I think the suggestion from @eoinfinnegan would work here TBH.

Are you aiming your gig at professional musicians who know what all the technical terms mean, or are you aiming at a general ‘I will sing your song’ audience - the two are obviously very different?

I have never encountered a buyer with whom I couldn’t communicate - there may he been a few who were challenging, but we got there in the end.

If it’s causing you such an obvious problem, perhaps you need to look at your gig offerings again, and the level of technical knowledge/language needed by your buyers to successfully order your gigs. If you have to set out your gig description in words of one syllable to make it clear what you do and don’t offer, then my advice would be to do it. Add images, add a video - I’ve done all of these things and it really has made life much easier for my buyers and for me as well.

Well obviously, if someone were to ask what a term means, I would explain it to them and they would understand that explanation so long as they speak basic enough English to converse with. I’ve had to do it before, with English speakers and otherwise, and it has been fine. Most people speak decent enough English to understand an explanation.

However, some people on this site, from a couple countries in particular, seem to be using google translate to interact because they send LITERAL gibberish LOL broken English is fine but I can not decipher gibberish. Do you really think a monosyllabic gig description would help in a situation with someone who can’t answer the question “Do you need me to write lyrics?” in decipherable way?

Don’t mention the language barrier at all.

Just say that you can’t work on this project and you are sure he will find a good match among the other sellers here.


Yep, this is what I usually do and it works about 75% of the time, thankfully! That 15% that either tries to argue or doesn’t seem to understand that I’m turning them down (“so offer send now? we do work.”) are veeeery frustrating though haha.

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In this case you could say that a family member suddenly died and you can’t do any work at the moment.
An auntie of mine died a lot of times.

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English-speaking buyers do that, too. I used to offer writing About Us pages, and a buyer with excellent English bought my gig and wanted me to do make them a PowerPoint presentation. There is no mention of PowerPoint in any of my gigs.

Anyway, when I get messages in truly terrible English, I politely tell them that I’m sorry, but I don’t understand them, and therefore can’t help them. They usually go away after that; a few try again, and go away after I tell them that I still don’t understand them.


Your example:

is easy to understand for a native speaker as it is written in the way you would speak in person to someone. To someone with little English it makes no sense and Google or any translation software would mush that to pieces. Short sentences with clear questions and expectations - yes/no where possible - is all it takes. Short sentences are easier to understand and do ok in Google translate for a lot of the more widely spoken languages.

Of course it is your prerogative to simply “get rid of them” but you will find that those who do actually make more of an effort in these situations tend to get a buyer for life. I offer SEO and Marketing Consultations which I am sure you would agree are as complex as the communication for singing a song and have never turned someone away because of communication issues. Instead, I adapt what I am saying to them, I am precise, use bullet points and repeatedly ask if they understand what I mean.

Above all, if you do not understand what they are saying, tell them - say what you think they mean and ask if that is correct. Sure, it takes some effort but such is life.


That is truly the most concise and to the point way of communicating that thought, though, in my opinion? I literally do not want to work with someone who can’t understand “Do I need to write lyrics?” LOL I don’t think it’s all that unreasonable a place to draw the line, particularly for a gig like mine where each order usually takes at least three or four hours to complete, sometimes even up to 10 or 12 depending on how detailed the song (how many layers of vocals, how many harmonies, etc).

When an average order takes 3+ hours of recording already, adding in multiple revisions because someone decided using google translate to make a business transaction was a good idea, means you’re basically working for free.

I understand some people may be comfortable sacrificing that much time but I’m just… not going to. Again, I do not have an issue with non-native English speakers - actually, roughly 90% of my business is with them and has been great. But there’s a difference between not speaking English perfectly, and not speaking English well, and just not speaking English. Not speaking English at all is, for me, too much of a hassle.

is very different to

In general, if you need to use a comma, an “and” or an “or”, it requires a better than basic level of English.

As I said, it is your prerogative who you deal with, I am just suggesting how you could have these people as clients and get along ok.


I also sing/make music and get a lot of people who don’t have great english skills at all but the basic instructions they tell me are pretty straightforward, I ask MANY questions before they order and not one order has been unsuccessful from these clients although if you are saying that they make no sense at all, then just say I dont understand the requirements you are asking for and just agree to not working with them.

I feel like your gig description could be improved, like i said I create music/sing and these buyers do not understand technical music terms, now there is a lot of musicians and producers I work with who do but the vast majority just want a song to be written and sung and dont know what doubled tracking or things like that are even if english is their language, I sometimes dont even use technical musical terms because people just don’t know, I just say would you also like me to make the vocals fuller adding more vocals on top and add some harmony.

If you dont mind me adding some input into your description, of course you dont have to use it but i feel it will be easier for customers to understand! :slight_smile:

I will sing a song for you in any genre and I can also write lyrics.


What does this gig offer?

Recording vocals in any genre (MUST be in my vocal range)

Writing Lyrics and creating vocal melodies.

Extras Include:

Creating vocal melodies

  • Files will be sent as a dry vocal wav file with NO effects.
  • Please provide a vocal melody/midi guide.
  • Adult content and curse words are fine, hate speech is not.
  • I use the AKG C214 mic & Adobe Audition 5.5 to record.
  • If lyrics are provided I can also sing in Japanese and Korean.
  • I can sing any genre from rock, classical, EDM and more!

If you have any questions please leave me a message and don’t forget to contact me before ordering!



That part I disagree with. If I need a service, I buy the service. I don’t have time to wait for a seller to get back to me. Time is money! I can’t afford to be put on hold.

The only time I contact sellers is when I have a controversial/strange need. If I know what I want might be offensive to some sellers, I contact the seller.

Other than that, you wrote a great gig description.

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