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5 tips overcoming the language barrier

One of the biggest worries people have when going to a new country is the language barrier. Any traveler to a new country knows that communication with locals will not be immediate. It takes time and practice to overcome a language barrier, but here are 5 tips to help you get started:

 language barrier

1. Be wary of your words

Not all English speaking countries use the same words for the same objects or situations. England and America are constantly at war as to the correct use of words: faucet or tap? Apartment or flat? Lift or elevator? Find out which form of English people relate to in the country you’re visiting, and you’ll find that getting your point across with locals might go a little easier.


2. Technology can help

Although I don’t like to rely too heavily on the apps on my iphone, they are, in fact, a great help when you need a quick go-to for a word. I’ve been in stores looking for items like shaving cream. Instead of playing out a very highly skilled and thought out rendition of my daily morning shave, I just type it into my Google translate app and bingo.

3. Make a good guess

Don’t be afraid to just try out words that you think are correct, even if you are not 100% certain. The chances are that most of the time you will be correct, as you are dragging it out of that deep dark sub-conscious without even realizing you are doing it. And if you’re wrong, so what! Nobody died, civilization didn’t fail, the world is still intact. You just said a word wrong. No big deal.

4. Relax

When you get nervous your brain starts shooting random words across the language plains of your head, which are crashing into each other, causing traffic delays, and doing stunt shows. Not helpful. Relax, take a deep breath, and remember your training. Now try it again. Better right? Usually being relaxed helps the flow of understanding and communication. So just remember to breathe.

5. Get emotional

First of all, if you are trying to communicate with somebody but you are showing minimal emotion, you are going to find that you are coming across a little boring. Nobody likes a robot. Secondly emotions are universal. Happy, sad, and angry: all of these are understood in different languages without having to use the language. So take Whitney Houston’s advice and don’t be afraid to get so emotional, baby.

 +1. Be an au pair! :)