Communications Tips

Tips for Communicating through Language Differencespeople

  • Limit telephone conversations — they are the absolute hardest. Go to e-mail as soon as you can. Of course, best is ‘in person’ where it is possible to mime out things if necessary.
  • Ask them how to say a certain word in their language. Try to say it and use it often. Then they can see that you are willing to learn from them and that you have empathy for the challenge it can be to conquer another  language.
  • Speak slowly and clearly but not LOUD. Keep your vocabulary simple.   Avoid idioms, which are rarely understood. Avoid jokes at first, as they are often dependant on culture or multiple meaning of vocabulary as with puns.
  • If you are not getting through after repeating something a couple of times, try restating it in a different way. Another thing that can help is to write it down for them. This can also help if you do not understand what they are trying to say to you in English.
  • If there is confusion over a certain word, try using a different word with the same meaning. You can also try stating its opposite word and add the word NOT. Example: If the word is ‘down’ you could say NOT ‘up’. Once again, spelling the word or writing it down can help.
  • A dictionary is useful, especially if it is a Spanish/English or French/English or whatever language is applicable.
  • One may think they understand something you are saying, and not realize that they have the wrong meaning. When you need to communicate something very important, you might ask them to restate or rephrase what you said rather than just asking if they understand. Then you can be certain that they understood correctly.

Remember that the communication challenges with international students who have just arrived are very short term! They learn very quickly once they get her and then begin classes. After a month or two of total immersion into an English speaking culture, there is a  ramatic improvement in conversational communication.

International Cultural Exchange

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