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Breaking the Language Barrier

Posted Moving Tips / September 12, 2018

Why is breaking the language barrier when relocating overseas so crucial, but at the same time seems so difficult? Learning foreign tongues can make blending into a new place much easier. We’re not just talking about your ability to read books and newspapers, but actually talk with someone who speaks it. And it usually takes courage to overcome the fear and embarrassment of making mistakes or not remembering the correct word, even though you’ve said it a thousand times before.

Learning a language can be difficult to overcome, but not impossible. The point is to be open to different traditions and habits and to invest additional effort to master strange pronunciations.

Nobody expects you to start speaking fluently at once, especially foreigners who have had to learn just like you and spent years mastering their skills. Even native speakers will show appreciation for the fact that you are addressing them in their native tongue and won’t mind if you make a few mistakes. On the contrary – they will support you.

Breaking the Language Barrier with Practice and Hard Work

An old Latin proverb says practice makes perfect, so start practicing sooner rather than later. Start doing it by talking to yourself in front of the mirror, as silly as it sounds. Before you pack for moving abroad to another part of the world, prepare some common phrases for everyday situations and start talking.

At first, those can be simple sentences and answers to potential questions such as what part of the world you come from, what you do, and so on. Later, you can move on to more complex stories. Talking in front of a mirror will simulate a situation when you address someone and will help you gain experience and practice.

Be Patient

As in any other activity, tips for learning new languages include a systematic approach and patience. That means you have to start by watching movies and podcasts, listening to music, etc. Then move on to active listening by stopping the video and repeating the sentences one by one. Just like children learn to speak by listening to their parents and repeating after them. Another good idea is to read anything that you find fit. Do not hesitate to search for other methods, too.

Increase the Use of Simpler Terms

It really is not important to sound like an erudite right away. It might take years before you achieve such a high level. Focus more on talking in short sentences, using simple phrases and words instead of complex expressions that are hard to pronounce. Bear in mind that not all native speakers are scholarly and might not even understand some specific words you learned, just as you do not understand all expert words in your language.

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Improve Your Accent

Accents are tricky. We all tend to apply our local accents to foreign words, and you can even tell one’s nationality by listening carefully to the accent used in a word. Mostly, it is because movie sync prevents us from hearing the accents pronounced in foreign languages, so we apply the ones we know – from our native languages. When you spend years listening to sync movies, you miss a lot. To make this right, we need to have access to authentic pronunciation either from internet originals or by listening to native speakers.

Today, with all the internet advantages, it is not difficult to gain that access. You can simply find something on YouTube and listen, pausing after each sentence and repeating, but try to do it as close to the original as possible. Listen to the video as many times as necessary to repeat the accent correctly. You can also write down what you hear and read it out loud to hear your pronunciation. Singing songs will also help you improve your accent. But bear in mind that as there are also different accents of English in different countries, so is the case with other languages. If you make comparisons between British English, American English, and Australian English, you’ll notice that they all have different pronunciations, which may be confusing for a beginner.

Pay Attention to Your Mistakes

Making mistakes is a natural part of learning. By listening to yourself speaking, you will be able to isolate the mistakes and pay additional attention to some specific words. It shouldn’t be a burden, and you shouldn’t despair – simply try to correct yourself and let other native speakers correct you as you speak. They will do that to help you and support you, not to embarrass you. Mistakes are your assistants here because it is through mistakes that we improve the language. And remember that small mistakes are normal and nobody will actually even notice them when they focus on the essence of what you’re talking about. To reduce the number of mistakes you make in the future, be sure you read a lot and practice whenever you get the chance. And then read some more.

Don’t Get Scared If You Forget a Word – There Are Ways to Describe It

Jitters from making a mistake can block your mind, and you will forget even something you know well. There is no need for that. If you forget a word, take your time to try to remember or use other words with similar meanings or even encourage the people around to help you with it. Their support alone will help you relax and remember it more easily. There is also an option of describing the word with your hands or with more other words.

Inhibition is not going to help you improve your language skills. The locals will like the fact that you are investing effort into learning their language, so just free yourself of all the fear and speak up. Count on their support to breeze through the process.

Practice with Yourself or Other People During Social Events

Start by practicing the language in front of the mirror to have a sense of how you sound. Use shorter sentences first and then proceed with longer, complex ones. That will build your confidence needed for normal life situations in the future.

Then when you get a chance to travel and speak with native speakers, you will be able to practice live. Keep practicing grammar as well, and expand your vocabulary.

The best way to practice is to go to the country you wish to live in. After you book your move to another part of the world, try to search for local places where you can have the opportunity to practice. If you have any friends, from the moment you start your relocation by air or sea, try not to use English terms as much as possible. If you’re moving abroad alone, try to meet new people to hang out with and hone your skills.

Practice During Social Gatherings or Various Engagements

Search for social gatherings to take part in, as these are great communication platforms and resources for practice. Profit from them to talk to different people about various topics. It is easier when the atmosphere is relaxed, and your mistakes will not be noticed. Listen to other people talking to learn from them. Also, if you are attending a gathering where you have to speak a foreign language, browse the related terminology in advance to learn specific expressions, so it does not pose a problem when you communicate. If you come across something problematic, you will have the time to search for a solution and work it all out before particular events.

Learn Idioms and Common Phrases

Idioms and phrases can be confusing. But, they need to be learned as they are part of contemporary languages all around the world. Start by learning the basic ones that are commonly used and the ones you might need the most, such as greetings, questions about getting around and finding hotels or other facilities, gratitudes, etc. If you don’t understand the phrase your collocutor used, ask him politely to explain, there’s no shame in that.

Moving Internationally Will Be Worth All the Trouble

When you start learning a language you might feel discouraged or even scared, but don’t worry, as soon as you relocate you’ll be surrounded by native speakers which will speed up your learning process. Start making friends, and try to talk in a language as much as possible, and you’ll see the progress very soon. Relocation is one of the best ways to break the language barrier, and it will be worth all the trouble when you become fluent.

Eva Johnson

Digital nomad born in New York but currently living online, Eva knows everything there is to know about packing and moving.

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