6 tips to overcome language barriers
Language is a huge part of our everyday lives. We use language to communicate our thoughts, feelings, and emotions in a vast variety of ways, which makes languages one of our greatest treasures. At the same, the number of languages spoken around the world does impress and thrills at the same. It becomes almost unbelievable when you think that a few thousand languages spoken by people on our planet while we still manage to understand each other. Yes, language barriers are still a thing and a pretty considerable one, yet the notion mentioned before shows that we, as humans, are adaptive creatures and, hence, will be able to overcome them.
How large the barriers really are
To define whether language barriers are big enough to create any kind of serious issue for humanity, it’s important to understand how many languages there are in the world. And as of today, around 6,900 distinct languages are recorded to be spoken around the world. While that seems like a lot, more than half of people on Earth speak English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and French combined. All of them are available at nearly any useful source to pick a translation service on the web. So that’s some good news.
Another aspect that helps us greatly in overcoming the language barriers is our ability to learn and access linguistic education. Well, the news is not as good here but still pretty promising. As of 2014, around 1.2 billion people around the world had access to learning languages. This number is pretty large, although it may seem somewhat small if you compare it to the number of languages spoken and the number of people speaking the dominant languages like English. At the same time, humans are extremely inventive when it comes to learning new things, so it’s all about quality, not quantity.
6 tips to overcome language barriers
Here are 6 simple lifehacks that will help you overcome the language barrier of any scale.
- Observe the language in its active use. One of the best ways to learn a language is to watch others use it. So, yes, basically, by watching your favorite TV shows in the language you learn you are actually engaging yourself in very useful activity, even though some people may tell you the opposite. Still, a good piece of advice for those who love watching something in an original language, make sure to add interviews, news clips, and podcasts to your playlist. You can find the use of language in its most natural form in any of that.
- Practice more. If you don’t use the language you learn frequently, your skill drops pretty quickly over time. So, speaking or writing in that language from time to time is a must for every learner. If you don’t feel like talking to people or don’t know anyone around who speaks this language, practice it in listening and writing. Alternatively, you can attend language clubs near you if you’d like to practice the use of language in all possible forms as people in those clubs will always be ready to help you with something to talk about, read, or watch.
- Make international friends. A friend will be your best advisor and will always let you know if you do something wrong. While it seems impossible to make friends during times of lockdowns and the pandemic, you can still find friends online and communicate with them via various digital means. In addition to a more efficient way of learning a language, you’ll also make a new friend, which is cool enough on its own.
- Don’t be afraid of using Google. Especially when you write something in the language you learn. Using Google Translate or other language apps, including dictionaries is normal practice, and it doesn’t say anything bad about you. Quite the opposite, it says that you have a very strong ability to learn and are prone to use all the resources available at your disposal.
- Try to relax while using the language. One of the greatest mistakes of language learners is that they become anxious and tense when they start to speak. That’s mostly because of the insecurity that any mistake will be noted, and people around will start judging the speaker. This is very far from the truth as native speakers are the ones to make the most mistakes, and they are the last ones to notice others making mistakes. If knowing this doesn’t really help you to gain confidence, you can try speaking clubs, which are intended to do that for you.
- Travel. Yes, traveling is not accessible to everybody but when it is, make sure you travel to the country where the predominant portion of the population speaks the language you learn. Traveling has a lot of different benefits besides that, so taking a vacation trip is more than a good idea.
It doesn’t matter how large those barriers are
Considering the many ways and means to learn the language today, no barriers are a match to our abilities and enthusiasm. With the internet and other technology is available at our disposal and our interest in everything different and exotic, who knows, maybe in the next century, there won’t be such an issue as the language barriers. That’ll be the day when all people around the Earth can finally understand each other and communicate freely.
Story by Michael Carr. Carr’s interest in learning knows no boundaries. He constantly does his best to learn a new language, culture, or just an important aspect of the modern lifestyle. On top of that enthusiasm, Michael is also an active educator with a belief that anyone can learn even more by sharing their experiences with others.