Language Barriers

Living in a different country and learning a new language can be difficult to say the least. You might feel like language barriers are squeezing you into a tunnel when all you want to do is communicate globally. I have spent four months in a country with a different language. Some language barriers did arise, but hereare three techniques I learned to help adapt to French and ultimately do what I came here to do: immerse myself in the French culture. Implementing these techniques in any country with a different language will help minimize the language barrier.

Streets of Antibes

Beautiful Mediterranean


Observe the locals

Locals at the market

Open your eyes. Observe the locals and their communication techniques. If you notice a few times getting off the bus, people say thank you or the grocery store clerk always expects you to talk to them politely and wish them a good day, DO IT! Observe the locals the follow their communication techniques.

Learn what is polite

Be nice, it’s that simple

We live in the age of the internet. Google what is polite before you go. In Western countries, it is polite to say please and thank you, to look someone in the eyes and smile. The best way to avoid confusion is to google basic practices so you are prepared to be polite. Being polite is not the same in every culture globally, but make sure you learn how to be polite in the country you are going.

Keep it simple

Keep it Simple in French or in English

If you are speaking English in France, that is most likely the store tender’s second language. If you are in any foreign country and you don’t speak their native language don’t expect them to understand complicated sentences in English. Keep it simple and avoid complicated sentences like this: “I am lactose intolerant, can you make a soy latte?” (I actually heard this sentence in France by an American) Instead, just: “coffee, no milk, (and add in the please!)” Remember if you are speaking English in a country whose native language is different, that means English is the second language of the person you are speaking with, so keep it simple.

Travel no matter what you do

If you learn these three communication techniques you will be able to communicate more efficiently anywhere you go in the world.

Jamie CM is the Fall 2017 MOJO Blogger in the French Riviera, France.  She is currently a Junior studying Communication & Business at Westminster College.

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