Overcoming Language Barriers When Studying Abroad

Our Guide To Overcoming Language Barriers When Studying Abroad

Unfortunately, overcoming language barriers when studying abroad is something that international students have to deal with. It is the consequence of our multilingual world. Despite the fact that many student visas and permits require you to be proficient in the official language of a country, there are still problems that might arise when you actually arrive there. You could find, for example, that the local slang is much different from the neat sentences in your tests and textbooks, or that the academic language is another beast altogether.

Fear not! In this article, we will dive into exactly what kind of issues language barriers present to those studying abroad as well as offer you strategies to deal with and overcome them.

Without further ado, let us get started, then.

Types of Language Barriers

When we talk about overcoming language barriers when studying abroad, we are talking about two distinct types of barriers. While each of them can be tackled in similar ways, it is important to make the distinction. Additionally, in our section on strategies, we will further elaborate on which strategies work better for which type if need be.

  1. Social language barriers:  As the name suggests, these are barriers that arise in a casual setting when you are trying to get to know people. Problems that usually happen here are not being able to follow a fast-paced conversation or being at a loss regarding the meaning of certain slang terms.
  2. Academic language barriers: This is more related to the university itself. Academic language can be difficult, especially in a foreign language. The good news is that academic terms are often rooted in Greek and Latin and as such are more recognizable across languages.

Whichever of these seems more problematic to you, the reality is that language barriers can cause frustration, loneliness, or even a feeling of being powerless. It does not feel good not to be able to get our point across or be left out of the conversation. Read on for a list of solutions!

Strategies For Overcoming Language Barriers When Studying Abroad

We will now go over some effective strategies that can be used to overcome language barriers when you find yourself studying in a foreign country. All of them are effective when used correctly and at the right time.

1. Watch Movies and TV Shows in Your Target Language

Consuming media in the language you are having trouble with is one of the best ways to become more comfortable with it. After all, when we are children, being exposed to our mother tongue is exactly how we acquire it in the first place.

Watching movies and TV shows also has the added benefit of presenting you with specific situations and opportunities to learn what kind of phrases are used and when. You might pick up certain ways of expressing yourself that the textbooks did not teach!

2. Ask For Help

There is no shame in asking for help in overcoming language barriers when studying abroad. In fact, you will probably find that many locals are thrilled at the chance to explain some kind of nuance in the way they speak. You might even make them think about something they took for granted their entire lives!

Furthermore, showing this kind of curiosity about someone’s culture is a great way to make some new friends. Learning a language with the help of a native is probably the best way to do it, and since you will no doubt be surrounded by university students, they can help you with some academic terminology, too.

3. Find Support Groups For International Students

There are a lot of international students all around you. It follows that other people may be having similar issues. Therefore,  your university might have established support groups. Additionally, you might be able to locate government-funded programs.

A lot of associations and NGOs try to help overseas students. These organizations may organize cultural and language classes. They may also plan events that will allow you to interact with people and aid in your integration into the community, such as cooking lessons or movie evenings.

4. Consider Language Exchange Programs

While focusing on overcoming language barriers when studying abroad, perhaps you can help someone else do the same thing! You can take part in language exchange programs and meet-ups in addition to traditional language study classes.

These gatherings allow the local and international students to practice their language skills by teaching each other. Therefore, this may be considered a highly beneficial technique for international students to engage with and interact with local students. It is great for any help with social slang and, depending on who attends them, can even help you with academics!

5. Try Communicating in Another Way

Writing and speaking are not the only modes of communication available to human beings. Therefore, there are other ways to get your thoughts and feelings across to others.

By attempting different forms of communication outside plain words, you might start gaining confidence and growing your social life. These include acting classes, music lessons, and art classes. You will realize that you have what it takes to make up for the temporary verbal deficit you experience.

Good Luck With Overcoming Language Barriers When Studying Abroad!

Language barriers can greatly hinder our enjoyment of our studying abroad experience. It is important, therefore, to have ways to remedy them. We hope that this article has helped you and that you will be able to use our useful strategies to communicate more freely and skillfully.

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