Language barrier is a serious obstacle that international students face when settling into a new country. It may result in a lot of consequences that may deter the student’s willingness to learn, socialize and speak up.

Having little to almost no prior knowledge of the country’s official language can impede the student’s learning and personal growth. If you are a prospective international student and don’t have enough time and resources to be fluent in the host country’s language, you’ll at least want to know how to overcome language barriers.

Overcoming language barriers requires a conscious effort both from you and the people who will surround you during your stay. Here are some methods that you can do to overcome language barriers:

Acknowledging Your Weaknesses

The first step to overcome any challenge is to acknowledge your weaknesses. Tell yourself that you need to improve to achieve a goal without putting on too much pressure. 

Remind yourself that getting used to a new language is a long process, and there will be minor hitches along the way. And when acknowledging your weaknesses, avoid comparing yourself to others.

Measuring your progress based on others wouldn’t give you a realistic look at what you’ve achieved so far. You must recognize that people learn at their own pace and there’s no reason for you to rush.

Request Your Friends to Speak Clearly and Slowly

You’ll spend a lot of time with your friends while studying abroad. If they’re a native speaker of the country’s official language, ask them to speak slowly when conversing with you, and kindly request to enunciate their words clearly.

This is a great way to learn everyday phrases and know their meanings. Aside from that, you can also be open to other people about your weaknesses. 

When you admit that you’re not very fluent in the language, people will generally be kind enough to help you out. That would be a better option instead of pretending to understand the language then feeling frustrated because you can’t keep up with the conversation.

Use Visual or Tonal Cues and Gestures To Get Meaning

As the cliche goes, actions speak louder than words. While listening to a person speak, observe their hand gestures and facial expressions.

Also, take note of their tone. Does it sound like they’re happy? Do they sound like someone who’s sharing a heartwarming story?

When you compile all these visual and tonal cues in your head, you can get a good grasp of what they’re trying to convey without being proficient in the language.

And when you respond, you can also use gestures or point at things or places to specify exactly what you’re trying to say.

Use Apps and Other Online Tools

While Google Translate isn’t the most accurate translator app, it’s still a useful tool when translating basic words or phrases.

You can also make use of language learning apps such as Duolingo to get a quick grasp of simple sentences and basic grammar. Just remember that these tools and apps may not be able to translate slang and figures of speeches too well, so you may want to ask your friends for confirmation.

A lot of students studying abroad don’t talk much in the fear of being misunderstood. Aside from the methods mentioned above, the key factor to remember to overcome language barriers is to be courageous enough to speak.

Language barriers are serious obstacles for international students, but there are many ways to overcome them. Look through our stories here at MSM Unify to learn how you can adjust to life abroad and overcome challenges. 

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