Communicating Abroad

The summer is officially in swing, vacations have been planned, study abroad semesters have started, and you might soon find yourself in international waters. Though time abroad should be spent enjoying and embedding oneself in a new culture, it is also a great opportunity to network with people who work in different cultural environments who can give you tips and tokens of information you won’t learn anywhere else. The only obstacle, not everyone you meet will know English well or even at all, so here are some useful tips on how to overcome language barriers when networking and communicating:

Slow and Clear Wins the Race
Make sure that you are speaking slowly and clearly so that the other person can better understand you. By enunciating your words and slowing down to ensure that the other person understands, you can avoid miscommunication and lack of understanding.

Patience is a Virtue
Communicating between languages can take time. Part of being patient can mean checking that the other person understands what you are saying, and making sure to clarify if they are not. Though it might get frustrating at times, recognize that it may be frustrating for both parties involved. The outcome of being patient and finally being able to accurately communicate can be gratifying!

Avoid Jargon and Idioms
Stick with the basics when communicating through language barriers. The more complicated the vocabulary you use, the more difficult it might be for someone else to understand you. Remember that jargon can also get easily misinterpreted and can cause unfortunate, though sometimes humorous misinterpretations.

And lastly, as always, be enthusiastic. Being able to spend time abroad is an indispensable experience. If you make the most of it and show that you are excited to be interacting with others, it can make communicating easier and will make others more inclined to communicate back. Buena suerte!

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