Languages are a fantastic thing—they connect us with people, help us learn about communities, and allow us to unlock the world around us and beyond. Speaking different languages is an asset in today’s increasingly globalised world, opening not just new doors of opportunity but also our minds. However, as great as languages can be, they can also be a barrier to communicating effectively.
Different countries speak different languages, and it’s common to have trouble communicating and overcoming language barriers abroad. Interacting with local people is not only something you need to get by during your stay away from home, but it’s also a way of learning more about cultures and places while connecting you with a broader community of people.
Especially if you’re studying in a new country, you must not allow these barriers to hinder you from making the best out of your exciting experience abroad. Even if you’re studying in an English-speaking country like Malta, there will always be linguistic hurdles to overcome, whether that’s because of local nuances, dialect, or slang. Plus, if you’re studying abroad, you’re likely to meet people from all over the world during your studies or outside of Campus—all speaking different languages or variations of widely-spoken languages like English.
So if you’re currently an international student or will be in the future, here are some of our top tips to cope with language barriers when studying abroad:
#1: Be okay with making mistakes
Mistakes are human—and it’s okay to make them when speaking a language that isn’t yours! Even native and fluent speakers sometimes struggle with particular pronunciation or grammar mistakes, so go easy on yourself! Mistakes in a foreign language are a sign of bravery—so if you make a blunder while speaking, acknowledge your mistake, and move confidently on. Try asking a local or fluent speaker for a brief explanation to get it right next time!
#2: Practice, practice, practice
Practising is one of the surefire ways to improve your language skills. It allows you to put your learnings into practice, train your listening and comprehension skills and build your confidence speaking in front of an audience. So use every opportunity to boost your fluency. Luckily, student life has many occasions to socialise and mingle with an international community. So whether you’re simply grabbing lunch with your new friends or conversing with the locals during your weekly shop, use these precious moments to make memories and improve your language skills too.
#3: Learn a few essential words and phrases
You might have the best ambitions to learn and practise a new language abroad, but realistically it might take you longer than expected to settle or feel comfortable flaunting your skills. So, prepare a few keywords or phrases you think you’ll need during your stay, such as the phrases you anticipate needing before checking in your student accommodation or finding student accommodation. This will make things easier and smoother for you!
Plus, make sure you take note of how to say things like how to say hello, thank you, and please, as these will always go a long way when facing language barriers abroad. Locals will appreciate your effort, and you’re likely to turn nerve-wracking situations into more familiar ones if you already have the right words to deal with them.
#4: Remember, tech can be your best friend
In many ways, tech can help you overcome language barriers when studying abroad. Using technology such as Google Translate or your translation app of preference can get you through difficult situations where you can’t express yourself in another language or understand what someone else is telling you. Similarly, language-learning apps such as Duolingo and Babbel offer a fun way to boost your linguistic skills, so make sure you download these on your phone before leaving!
#5: Give yourself a break
Practising is essential to overcoming language barriers—but so is resting. As with any unfamiliar experience, it’s crucial to give your brain a break now and then and take a step back to the familiar. Even simply having a chat in your native language or watching a TV show in your first language after a long day at university will help rest your brain—while giving you renewed motivation to continue learning the following day!
#6: Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Heard a word or expression you didn’t know the meaning of? Suddenly forgot how to say something in the local language? You’re likely to experience these situations when staying somewhere foreign in the long term—and one effective way to overcome this language barrier is to simply ask. More often than not, locals and native speakers will be more than willing to help guide you through this sort of hurdle. Don’t forget to ask politely—and consider letting them know your level of fluency in a language so that they can eventually adapt to that in their choice of words or the speed at which they’re speaking.
Are you looking to learn a language through immersion?
One of the most effective ways to overcome language barriers and improve fluency is by immersing yourself in that language.
With a mission to revolutionise the way students live, work, and interact, Campus Hub can help you do just that. Located directly on Campus, the residence offers comfortable accommodation at a stone’s throw from the University of Malta. All residents can use communal areas to relax, have fun, and access amenities to support their study-life balance. These include a laundry area, a student lounge, a gym and swimming pool, parking and bike storage, as well as food and retail outlets—all of which offer a myriad of opportunities to interact with locals and fellow students as well.
Are you interested in learning more about Campus Hub? Contact us directly via our contact form, email us at email@example.com, or call us on +356 23167700, and a team member will be happy to assist you.