10 Strategic Ways to overcome language Barriers

You are sitting down in Sheremetyevo International Airport in Khimki, Moscow Oblast, Russia. You have just disembarked from the plane and you are pressed. You really need to go to the loo. Nothing you see around gives hints as to where the toilets are. Even worse; nobody seems to understand what washrooms are. Maybe they know toilets...you try this and the guy you are asking gives you a blank stare.

Such are the burdens travellers have to face in foreign countries. Trust me; at one point or another, you will have your story to tell too. There are several ways of breaking these language barriers. Below are a couple of them...hopefully, they will help you.

1. Learn the local customs - It will help you get accepted into the community more easily.

2. Try to speak slowly and clearly - In this case, the thumb rule is to speak like your local anchor, only less quickly.

3. Get clarifications - In case something is not very clear to you, ask the communicator to get clearer.

4. Be Specific - Here, your masterly of language is not needed. Idioms, proverbs, similes and even jokes may not get the right message across. Rather be specific.

5. The medium of communication must be the best - In a day and age where instant messaging and emails are the norm, you will be tempted to communicate via either. But imagine a situation where a patient needs to hear the reassuring voice of a doctor?

6. Patience is a virtue - The people you will be communicating with will most likely be second language speakers of your language. Be patient when they ask for clarifications.

7. Understanding each other is two-way - People from the West have big egos. Leave your ego back home. People will tag you a snob and even if your message is great, it will be taken negatively.

8. That's why you need a dictionary - Get a local language dictionary and look for meanings of words.

9. A language translation travel app will come in handy in situations where you need translations immediately.

10. Idioms are a no no - If you are an American and know terms such as touch downs, ballpark figure, striking a deal etc., don't expect people from other countries to know them. Baseball is only played in US...so is football. Use language that does not expect your audience to have knowledge of other things.

In short, make your communication as simple as possible...and try to learn the local language too. Most people will for example take you positively if you have made an effort to learn their greetings.

By Kennedy Runo

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