Top Ways to Overcome Language Barriers

language barriers

There are approximately 7 billion different people that live in the world and each group of people will speak a different language from your own. With the constant flow of people traveling to and from countries, there will be a situation at one point in your life where you will need to find ways to overcome language barriers. Whether you are in a business meeting with foreign co-workers or if you are on a personal vacation, you will need to use the below tips to ensure that you are able to effectively communicate with people who speak a different language.

Speaking Slowly

One of the most important things to consider when you are trying to speak to someone who doesn’t understand your native tongue is that they generally won’t be able to process the majority of words that you are about to say. Therefore it can be quite beneficial to speak slowly and articulate every word. This will help to ensure that your accent doesn’t affect the way that they process your sentence, but so that they have a higher probability of piecing the words together. The majority of countries have residents that understand a small amount of English and the slower that it is spoken to them, the easier it is to understand. It is also important to remember that speaking loudly does not equate to speaking slowly. The people that you are talking to aren’t deaf and they will become quite insulted if you raise your voice when trying to talk to them.

Choosing your Words Carefully

As previously mentioned, the majority of countries in the world speak a small amount of English and this makes it incredibly important for you to choose your words carefully. There is a high probability that the person that you are talking to will try to read your lips, therefore you won’t want to choose any words that are particularly long and difficult to understand. You will want to avoid contractions such as isn’t or aren’t, instead choose is not and are not. This will help to make your sentences easier for the other person to understand. The simpler the better.

Cut Out Slang

Slang may seem like a great way to cut corners when you are talking to your friends and/or family members but it is definitely something that you will want to avoid when you’re traveling abroad or talking to someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you. English has essentially become a pizza of different slang words that can’t be found on any other menus around the world. Foreign individuals would become rather confused if you started saying common phrases such as “Sort of like” or “It was pretty bad”. Avoiding slang is not only important for ensuring that the other person understands you but it is also more polite and professional to avoid it all together.

Replacing Sentences with One Word

This tip may sound strange but in reality, it can be a real life saver when you’re speaking with someone who is unaware of the English language. Using single words instead of stringing an entire sentence together can be quite useful not only for you but for the person that you are talking to. Imagine having the opportunity to avoid having to learn the majority of a particular foreign language and simply concentrating on the most important aspects. As an example, if you’re looking to take pictures of people in the locations that you are visiting, instead of asking “May I take your picture, please?” consider asking “Photo?” This will convey the same message and be just as effective with a minimal amount of effort. This can be especially useful for travelers who will be going to various locations with different native tongues as you can learn the basics and use them effectively. It can also be great to try to start your questions and requests with “Please” as it shows respect and courtesy to the person that you are talking to.

Communicate Better With These Simple Tips in This Video

Some great takeaways here from this video are:

  • Keep it simple
  • Practice some simple phrases/questions in the target language
  • Ask for clarification
  • Check for understanding

Find Internationally Used Words

You would be surprised at the sheer amount of English words that are used in different countries around the world. Even locations that speak English are not aware of common words that we use to express ourselves on a daily basis. As an example, residents of England refer to a “Vacation” as a “Holiday”. Finding these internationally understood words can be great ways to overcome language barriers. You can plug these words into your sentences so that your audience can get the gist of what you’re trying to say. Another prominent example is the word “bathroom”. Many cultures do not understand what a bathroom is so instead, you would substitute it for “toilet”. There are a variety of internationally used words that can help to make your conversations flow smoother.