How To Overcome Language Barriers During Your Gap Year Abroad

Shriradha | Thu, 12/21/2017 - 10:13 | 361 | , Gap Year Abroad, gap year abroad

Learning a new language is a big feat and it takes patience and time as well to master any given language of the world. The language barrier is one of the hiccups of traveling abroad combating which requires special directives. Moreover, when it’s during your gap year plans abroad, it can surely pop-up as a red flag in your mind at first. Whether you are planning to work, travel or volunteer abroad during your break year, communication barrier when it comes to the local language can stand as an obstacle in your course of exploration and discovery.

People going out on their own for the first time might get thinking that it might cause them problems like they might not be able to talk to the local people, they might fail to figure out roads, directions and even cause problems in simplest of things like shopping. You’ve just taken a break from school life and studying is far from your mind right now.The thought of language school repels you and yet the hope of a gap year overseas is what keeps you going. What if I told you there are ways where you can interject both and make things work. Like you won’t need to attend language classes and even make the most of your gap year travel. These simple tricks will help you keep the International language problems at bay.

Research about the languages spoken

The first and most important leg of any trip is good researching, always! Once you have decided on your destination, research on your country and see what all languages are spoken by the natives and if English is amongst the primary or not. There are many countries, for example like India where over 15 local languages are spoken and the majority of the natives are pros in English, which is taught as a first or second language in schools in India. Similarly, there are many countries out there which have got a huge demographic of English speaking people, and if your country is among them, your work just became a tad bit easier. But even if it’s not, you have no reason to sweat it because we have just started here!


Learn the basics

learn the basics of a new language

Once you are done with your research part and have found out all you needed to find, you need to get to learn the basics of the local language. No, I am not talking about the entire length and breadth of the language that is spoken in your country of choice, just the basics that’d further smoothen your communications. Especially if you are working or volunteering while traveling, your interaction with the locals is pivotal and having a few words of the local language memorized can help bridge the gap a lot.

All of us are used to hearing a lot of basics in international languages and some of us might know more even. Like my vocab includes words like- Hola- Hello in Spanish Guten Tag- Good day in German Au Revoir and Sayonara- GoodBye in French and Japanese, respectively Bonjour, Comment Ça Va? meaning hello/good morning, how are you/how you doing? Well, I think you’ve got the idea here. Keep a pocketbook ready with you with a few daily usable phrases and words and you’ll find your journey to be smoother and without any snags.


Language classes on the go

language apps

Thanks to modern technology, learning has evolved way beyond sitting in a classroom with blackboards and books. If you search online you’ll find numerous language learning apps like Duolingo, one of my favorites, which help you get a hang of different international languages. These apps are anything but boring with colorful infographics and interactive worksheets which make language learning an easy and fun affair. What’s more, it’s right there on a device of your choice and you can access it anytime you want and get to learning something new. Trust me, learning a new language can be exciting too and can prove to be an important part of your experience abroad as well.


Language Dictionaries can come in handy

Have you ever seen a traveler clenching a small book in his hand with a lost look on his face? If not you must have at least seen a few of the great travel movies where a character tries to make sense of the local language drawing reference from a book. Yes, I am talking about that book here guys! A language dictionary is one of the best arms in your arsenal when combating language barriers abroad. These books are equipped with easy to use phrases and words with easy breakdowns and directions for enunciation which makes speaking the local dialect, if not easy then at least not an excruciating affair.


Stationery supplies can be your boon when traveling

jot down new words in a diary

As I have already told you about the small pocket diary containing a few basic phrases can be a huge aid in communicating with the localities. Similarly, keeping a simple pen and paper makes sure that you don’t get lost in translation. Be it an address, or directions or even someone’s name, the nuances of a local language can sometimes be very hard to get a grip on.

A simple solution for that is to keep some stationeries handy so that you can quickly jot down this important information and make sure there aren’t any chances of mishearing. You can even ask the person sharing the information if you have any difficulties in making sense of what they have said. It is always better not to leave any room for doubts than struggling later. Also, these stationeries could be the perfect resort to chronicle your adventure travel or gap year volunteering journey abroad.


Sign yourself up for language orientation

language orientation classes while traveling

If you are opting for a volunteer experience abroad during your gap year you will surely find that there are orientation sessions for you when you touchdown in the country where you will be working. These orientation sessions are done to induct you properly about the local people, culture, norms, and rules. Many times these sessions include language orientation as well where skilled instructors will help you learn the basics of the local dialect and will also guide you further on how to handle and ease your difficulties in understanding the language with a few useful tips like these.


Gestural communication is an added advantage

You don’t need to know how to sign in order to talk through gestures. Imagine a scenario where you are asking someone ‘To which way is the Metro Station?’ and they have a blank look on their face. What you can do is slow it down and use hand gestures along with what you’re saying. Gestures are universal body language which is the same in every part of the world. Use a few signs with your hands and you would make it easier for the other person to comprehend what you’re saying. But you should always give it a go and see if they understand what you’re saying without using hand gestures at first so that the person doesn’t think that you’re disrespecting him/her by just assuming that they don’t understand you.


Local connections can be of benefit

learn the language from the locals

Travelers don’t just spend time in the local communities just because it’s on their itinerary. Interacting with the locals and building connections are the hassle-free way out of communication problems. Volunteering is an opportunity where you extensive exposure to the local culture and inevitably a lot of time to hang out with the locals. Such an experience can really prepare you well for your gap year in the country. You can practice your language skills with the locals, they can teach you the nuances; a local friend can even help you out as an interpreter during your journey. Leveraging local connections can be a huge aid. What’s more, along with the way you’ll become an integral part of their community and build friendships and memories that’ll stay ingrained in your mind forever.

If you are planning to travel to an exotic country for your gap year and have reservations about the language and the problems that may arise out of it, then these pointers would be the perfect guide for you to leave behind those worries and make the most of your trip. We at GoDiscoverAbroad provide well-crafted programs for your gap year plans and help you make most of your time overseas by traveling, exploring and giving back to the community. Become a responsible traveler and plan your gap year with us TODAY!

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