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How to overcome language barriers living abroad


Communicating with others plays an important role in everyday life, whether that is at work, going to the shops, or being with friends.

It can be tricky to talk with others when you have moved to a new country where you don’t speak the language or are in the process of learning. It is a process that can take time, but practising a lot, absorbing the local culture, and using study tools can all help you understand the language better.

Take a look at our blog for some useful information on how you can overcome language barriers when you first move to a new country.


Use language learning tools

Learning the language as early as possible can be useful when you’re living abroad, making daily tasks smoother and less stressful.

There are many different methods you can use to help you with this process, both digital and traditional. Language learning apps and online tools are a great way of getting you started, providing you with a convenient way to learn. Also, make use of dictionaries and translation tools to converse with others if you need some additional support.

Language courses are an option you might wish to consider, which can be taught digitally or face-to-face depending on your preference. This gives you the opportunity to practice your pronunciation and can be particularly beneficial if you enjoy studying in a structured environment.


Absorb the local culture

Another way you can develop your language skills is to absorb as much local culture as possible, which can help you understand common phrases, pronunciation, and accents.

This can be as simple as listening to a foreign language radio station or music from your destination country. Immersing yourself in this culture is a fun way of learning a language, and you might be surprised at how much you begin to understand!

Watching TV shows in the local dialect or with subtitles can be beneficial too, with the added bonus that can be entertaining. If you prefer reading books, why not try your favourite stories in the country’s language? Keeping a dictionary near you means you can look up any words you don’t recognise; alternatively, if you have an e-reader, there is sometimes utilise useful translation tool if you need assistance.

Check out our blog for some more information on how you can immerse yourself in the culture of your host country.


Spend time practising

Practising is key when you want to learn a new language, so use it whenever you can. For example, you could try this when you’re ordering or drink or buying groceries; over time, you will start to feel more comfortable and confident in your language skills.

It’s important to not feel embarrassed if you make a mistake when speaking with other people. Be patient and tell yourself that you are trying your best and that it might take time for you to become fluent.

Though it can also feel daunting trying to learn a language, think of the positives. For example, it can boost your job prospects if you can speak in multiple dialects, as well as improve your cultural awareness.


Use visual aids for communication

While speaking is an essential method of communication in our daily lives, there are many other ways you can overcome a language barrier.

Using visual aids such as videos or body movements can assist you in conveying meaning to other people in situations where you don’t talk the same language. It’s wise to do some research into the local culture beforehand though to be respectful and to ensure people understand you.

Additionally, communicating slowly and clearly can make it easier to converse with different people, as it gives them time to digest what you’re saying.


Make friends with the locals

As well as this, conversing with native speakers can help you with language learning and make you feel more confident in your abilities.

Try joining clubs in your community or get to know your neighbours to find some friends in your new home. Ask them to correct you on your pronunciation if you make a mistake and speak in their language with them as often as you can.

They can give you useful tips on how to improve your accent that you might not receive if you were just using an online learning tool or trying to find a translation in a dictionary.

Not only this, but it is also a great opportunity to build friendships that can make you feel settled in your destination country. Take a look at our blog to find out how you can combat loneliness when you’re living abroad.


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