The Secret Life of an International Student: Language Barrier

One of the most common issue among international students is the language barrier. More than an issue, it is a fear as you have to rely on another language to survive. 

When I first decided to go to UK for studies, that was the very first thing I was afraid of. What if I don’t understand them? What if I don’t understand lectures? What if I can’t communicate with people properly? How am I going to live there if all of this happen? Yes, it was an actual immense fear.

I am coming from a non-English speaking country and away from the capital city. Even though English was a compulsory subject in school, unless you are in an English medium class, you won’t get enough chances to sharp your speaking skills. Plus, we don’t have a culture of speak in English when we are home. Therefore, my English was not very fluent that time.

When I came to UK it was extremely difficult in the beginning. I was satisfied with my writing, reading and speaking. However, understanding accents was not that easy. As UK is a very diverse country, people from every single corner of the world are there, and each got their own accent. So how did I overcome fear of language?

That time I thought, Since I am the one who decided to study in an English-speaking country, I should be the one who is responsible for my own actions. I tried to hang out as much as native English speakers. Real day-to-day interactions helped me to understand common English slangs and dialects which aid to make my life thousand times easier. Watching kids cartoons with my nephew was another my way of understanding the accents. After few months, I was able to communicate properly, and it wasn’t a fear anymore.

So, why is it important to overcome language barrier when you go overseas. Doesn’t matter where you go and who you are it is a must for anyone to overcome this issue. Weather you are going to UK, China, Italy, Korea or anywhere in the world, making yourself familiar with their native language is essential for you to communicate well. Don’t expect Chinese people to speak in English or in your language when you are in China. Don’t expect English people to speak in your language when you are in England. The moment you decide to go to a foreign country, it is your responsibility to excel in that countries’ native language. What is more crucial is that, it is not all about how well you speak their language but how well you can express feelings and emotions through words without creating a misunderstanding. Otherwise it could lead to exclusion and inadequacy.

No matter what language you are going to learn, having a clear idea of what you want to say to other person can create a better and clear conversation. Also, it is obvious that we all do and can speak quite fast in our own language. However, if you are learning or trying to fluent in a new language it is better to speak slowly. Another common thing we do is that we don’t get our doubts clarified and assume things as many are embarrassed ask again in a conversation even though they didn’t get a single word. When you don’t get what other person is saying don’t be waver to tell them to repeat what they said. Most importantly, don’t assume that anyone going to laugh at you or make fun of you. Most of the time they don’t. Even if they do, let them do so as it is all about you. If you are in a lecture and if the lecture or lecturer’s accent is not easy to understand, don’t hesitate to ask from your lecturer. Moreover, many universities provide language support in writing, speaking, reading and listening along side with your programme. So, don’t forget to get most out of those opportunities. If you go with these simple tips, you will be able to excel in any language.

So if you are an international student or someone who is planning to go abroad either for studies or work don’t be fear of language. If I did it, everyone else can do it. Over the years what I understood is that it is all up to you to make your life easier or make it thousand times difficult. 

If you have any similar experience, don’t forget to share in the comments below.


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