Category: Language

Solving Language Barriers

When conducting work in other countries it’s extremely beneficial to learn the native language so as to connect more fully with the locals.  If you’re trying to learn a new language it’s helpful to think of a few tips and tricks to make your life easier and the language learning process go more smoothly.

There are many different software programs out there that can aid in the acquisition of a new language.  One of the top language learning programs is Rosetta Stone, and their library of available languages is the largest in terms of all the different software programs out there.  However, as an adult learner many people have trouble with Rosetta Stone.  This is why the Rocket Language series is often recommended.  Unfortunately there aren’t as many languages offered in the Rocket Languages library.  There are the usuals, like French, Spanish, German, etc.  However the more exotic languages are not available.  This review can help you see what these programs consist of.

There have been many studies done on the effect that language barriers can have, and how both sides can manage expectations.

In spite of these accommodations to international, or American, business norms the potential for conflict and instances of actual, if hidden, conflict between native English speakers and English-speaking Mandarin speakers is clear. While accepting the need to speak English, and indeed embracing it as a symbol of their internationalism, all the respondents also spoke of their need to speak Mandarin at key events, of a need for the willingness of both parties to expose themselves to the difficulties of speaking in a second language and of a need for a reciprocal understanding of cultural norms and practices. An underlying thread in the interviews was the sense that if such reciprocal behaviour is not forthcoming, it will be imposed by a unilateral refusal to speak English. In their 2013 study of the language practices of MNCs across the globe Harzing and Pudelko comment

Fischer, Mary. “Language choice as a potential source of intercultural discord in English-Mandarin business encounters.” China Media Research 9.4 (2013): 45+.

We think that you’ll have much more success if you at least make a concerted effort to communicate in certain instances in the native language.  This will go a long way towards showing effort and bridging that gap where many other non-native English speakers feel like second class.