Teaching Abroad: Overcoming Language Barrier

Teaching in another country can be tough due to the language barrier.

As an educator, it’s crucial to consider students’ cultural differences, including the languages their families speak at home. This helps create a friendly environment where learning is easier. A great educator knows how to engage parents in their child’s education, which becomes even more important if English isn’t their first language.

When people explore new countries, they often worry about not knowing the language, which can make them feel nervous. When you visit a place where people speak a different language, it can be hard to talk to them immediately.

Even if you’ve studied the language of the country you’re visiting, you might still face some challenges. You might struggle with local sayings, slang, or even words you’ve forgotten.

But don’t worry! With patience and practice, you can overcome this obstacle quickly. Let’s explore what language barriers are and how you can conquer them.

What is the language barrier?

As people worldwide connect more through technology, we come across new experiences, languages, cultures, and traditions. But sometimes, it can be tough to understand each other because we speak different languages or dialects.

We call this a language barrier, which means facing challenges when communicating with others who speak differently. It’s when our language differences make it hard to talk and understand each other.

When the person talking and the person listening doesn’t speak the same language or use the same words, communication can lose its meaning. Lots of people in the world don’t speak English, and even if they do, it might not be their first language.

Language barriers can be a big problem because they can stop progress in many parts of life, like important agreements, understanding feelings, or working together on creative projects. 

What’s more, language barriers can sometimes cause misunderstandings, fights, hurt feelings, and problems, which make communication even harder. 

What are the types of language barriers?

Learning foreign languages is something many people do, but some languages can be really tough to learn and use for good communication. Even if we have lots of ways to talk to each other, messages can still get mixed up or not completely understood sometimes.

And there are times when communication can be hard, even if we’re speaking the same language. These barriers could be related to slang or even a lack of shared vocabulary to discuss a specific topic.

Dialect barrier:

Dialects are different versions of a language that belong to a specific area and usually don’t have a written form. People might speak a local version of the official language in various parts of a state or country.

This can happen because of other languages’ influence or gradual changes in how words are pronounced.


Accents are special and unique pronunciations of words in a language. They can happen when people from different places or countries speak a language that isn’t their first language.


Jargon means using special words or language that only certain professionals understand. Using too much jargon in communication can make it hard for others to understand.

For example, when doctors write prescriptions, provide medical test results, or deal with financial or legal papers, we often need experts to explain things in simpler terms for regular people to understand.


Slang means using special words or phrases that only certain groups of people understand. It’s like a casual way of talking that people in a close group use to show they have things in common or feel the same about something. 

But slang might be offensive or puzzling for people who don’t know it well. 

How do language barriers affect the international student experience?

Going to study in another country is like a dream come true for lots of students. But dreams can sometimes bring difficulties too.

One of the challenges for students studying abroad is the language barrier. It can be difficult for them to talk with people who speak the local language fluently, and even expressing themselves in their own language can be tough.

Students from different educational backgrounds might struggle to study on their own, feel unsure about things, feel alone, and worry that not participating in class means they don’t want to learn in a foreign country.

When you can’t communicate effectively, and you’re not familiar with how things work in the education system, it can make studying abroad even more stressful. A lot of international students also find it hard to grasp ideas because the lectures are often taught at a fast pace.

How can we overcome language barriers?

Dealing with language barriers can be difficult at work or in everyday life, and it might lead to challenging situations. But if you’re prepared for these barriers, you can discover ways to overcome them when they happen.

Overcoming them is totally possible if you use the right approach and have a problem-solving mindset.  

Four Ways a Language Barrier can be Overcome:

1) Speak slowly and clearly, avoiding rushed communication. 

2) If you’re unsure, ask for clarification. Don’t assume you’ve understood correctly.

3) Frequently check for understanding using two-way communication and reflective listening, repeating back what you’ve heard.

4) Be patient and allow for the necessary time needed to bridge any cultural gaps in communication.

In a nutshell

Even though language barriers can be tough, it’s crucial to remember that working with people from different cultures and backgrounds is incredibly beneficial. Embrace the chance to expand your horizons and learn from the diverse environment around you.

Language barriers can actually spark innovation, creativity, and success. It’s an experience that can help you grow as an individual and improve your communication skills.

Don’t allow language barriers to hold you back from fully embracing a diverse workplace’s opportunities. Discover valuable ways to become a better educator and gain helpful advice for teaching in different countries by visiting our EDU Blog today!

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