The language barrier is a common challenge in international business settings. In recent years, the concept of distributed offices, where different teams are located in different geographic zones, has taken off.
Distributed offices allow business owners to hire the best talent in each country and work with an international team. However, one of the biggest problems that afflict distributed offices and distributed groups is that of the language barrier.
There is always an apparent communication gap between native and non-native speakers. Not just in business settings, the language barrier is also a significant impediment to people discovering new places and cultures.
With geographical boundaries becoming more fluid and increasingly meaningless, learning to cross the language barrier has become more critical than ever.
6 Tips on How to Cross the Language Barrier
1. Books Are Always Helpful
If you are traveling to a city or country whose native language is unknown to you, the first thing you must do is buy a book and learn at least a few essential phrases that will get you by in the city.
These days, it is quite easy to find language-learning books. However, if for some reason, you find yourself unable to reach a book store, scour the internet for relevant books and blogs.
Carry the book or a print-out of the essential phrases you have learned with you and refer to them when needed.
2. Download an Offline Dictionary
If you don’t like reading books or prefer to travel light with only the most essentials items in your bag, an offline dictionary is what you need.
Currently, there are many offline dictionaries available on the internet that can be downloaded for free. However, not all of these dictionaries work offline. While traveling to a new city, make it a point to download an offline dictionary. You do not know if and when you will have access to the internet.
3. Learn from the Locals
Now that you are in the city and have tried whatever phrases and words you learned at home, it’s time to open yourself to the locals and take advantage of the unique position you are in.
If you are planning to stay in the city for a long while, you should make friends with native speakers. Listen to the locals when they talk, this will allow you to develop a grasp over the accent.
You can also look up for Facebook groups and meetups. Such meetups and interactions will put you in touch with people who are sailing in the same boat as you.
To make friends with native speakers you can visit local concerts, football matches, national events or even book a table in the local restaurant with the use of special international restaurant booking service according to your food preferences, such an app will give you so many reviews (which is important when you want to eat in an unknown place), prices, menu options and so on. Then try to make friends with locals there.
4. Take Help from a Friend or Guide
If you have tried learning from books and online blogs and have failed miserably, it’s time to ask for help from a friend who knows the language. Reach out to your friends and people in your group. Let them know about your travel plans and if they can join you. The other thing you can do is hire a guide who will show you around and also help you understand some of the famous local words and phrases.
5. Take Help from Reverse Number Lookup
If you haven’t heard about Spokeo, you are probably living under a cave. Spokeo is a people search website that allows you to run a search on anyone whose phone number you have. This website works with several different data sources and thus, can provide information on almost everyone. Spokeo supports various services, such as reverse phone lookup, reverse email lookup, people search and etc.
Spokeo can prove to be helpful while traveling. What will you do if you meet a foreigner you really like, but the language barrier stops you from getting to know them? Use Spokeo. Do a phone number search on the person, and the website will tell you about their interests and interactions on social networking apps. This will help you get to know them better, in spite of the language barrier.
6. Be Patient
It’s not easy to learn a language; you are bound to fail over and over. Cross-cultural communication isn’t easy. Thus, the most important thing to do is to be patient. Enjoy the process of learning a new language rather than worrying about seeing results. Do not give up, and you will find yourself speaking like a local soon enough.
Learning a new language is one of the most challenging things to do. It requires time and effort. However, it is not a task that cannot be conquered. We hope these tips on how to cross language barriers will prove to be helpful.
By Valerie Malecha – the content marketing manager for Spokeo. She is an experienced writer and editor. She creates articles on relations, dating, parenting, technology, travel and business topics.