Language Barrier Tips

For many ex-pats living and visiting in … well anywhere in the world. The biggest hurdle can be language. It has been mine since living in Germany, but I have learned some German.  The German language, to me at least, is a pretty difficult language to learn.  Where I live there is a rather large American population so most of the locals speak English as well.  Though I have learned quite a few phrases and I highly recommend that YOU learn some of the languages before you go anywhere.

Why is it so important to learn something? It is common courtesy plus it shows respect.  Even knowing just a few phrases before you ask “Do you speak English” will show that you are at least trying.  Most people around here will automatically know I am English-speaking and speak English to me instead.  It can be frustrating for those that are trying to learn a new language, but in return they may be doing the same thing.

I have also realized how important it is to learn other languages as well and I am making a huge attempt to have my children learn A language.  Of course when I was in school I would ask “why would I need to learn Spanish?”…. well you will.  I have spoke in Spanish a few times living here in Europe.  We’ve been to Spain and I also met a family at Disneyland Paris where I have used my skills.  I must say I was pretty impressed that I still remembered some fragments, but I am pretty sure my grammar was absolutely horrid.

Recommendations on what to learn:

  • Hello
  • Good-bye
  • Thank you
  • How are you?
  • Where is the Toilet?
  • Do you speak English?
  • Numbers (big one)
  • How much?
  • Where is _______?
    • _____ Hotel
    • grocery store?
    • And so forth

Of course for us being in Europe has been a challenge because not only are we learning German, but when we visit another country we are using another language.  My kids loved visiting Scotland (Yay! English) & they are certainly going to love visiting London next month (Yay! English!). Just keep in mind you can communicate in more than 1 way i.e. language.  Body language, maybe photos, pointing, or using an app to translate what you are looking for.  I highly recommend using Word Lens! Though I have to say that the greatest reward is hearing your children speaking another language.  My kids say bitte (please), danke (thanks), tchuss etc all the time and I absolutely LOVE it!

Do you have any tips for language barriers?  Please comment below!

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23 thoughts on “Language Barrier Tips

  1. It is wonderful (and by all accounts easier) to learn a language when you are younger.

    There is less fear of getting it wrong (which you will) and they just don’t get embarrassed like many adults.

    As a learner, I also found it great practicing what Spanish I’d been working on with kids as well, as you never felt they were judging!

    However, the problem with conversing with many adults (other than teachers), is that many are often too polite to correct you when you are indeed incorrect, that it just becomes ingrained that way!

    Ah, the joys of it all 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s so important to learn the basics. My problem is a lack of confidence – I’ll know the foreign word for something, but feel too embarrassed to try it with a local!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is an awesome post!! We are in the midst of learning German more formally now. We’ve been living in Austria for a few months, and it’s been hard to learn sentence structure etc – especially since most people speak to us in English. I’m excited to dedicate time with a teacher, so that I can become comfortable with German and use it more! Plus, learning a language is the MOST rewarding thing ever, so I can’t wait!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh definitely. We are trying to learn Spanish. Well it’s kind of on the back burner now that we are in Canada but two months in Central Am will change that. I learnt German at school, I can recite three lines of any essay. Rote learning is only good for one thing – passing exams! Living in the country is a far better idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I would add male/female (for the toilets- sometimes there is a sign with no picture!) and pretty or beautiful. Ad smile a lot. I agree with you it is important to try the language. More and more people speak english now it is much easier than many years ago to travel as an english speaker. But you still miss a lot if you can’t understand anything in the local language. We find most of the words we learn are food.

    Liked by 1 person

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