No Worries Wednesday - Navigating Language Barriers

Author: Alissa Ward

No Worries Wednesday is a series where blog contributors speak to a topic which they were worried before they participated in an education abroad experience. Leaving all that you are surrounded by and comfortable with can be challenging or even frightening. This series will hopefully dispel myths and ease worries for students who are considering taking part in exchanges, field schools or other international learning opportunities!


Despite Canada having two official languages and multiple other languages in the diverse communities, we are typically surrounded by English speaking individuals in Western Canada. Going to a country that speaks a different language can be intimidate. It can also be a very rewarding experience! Use my tips below to understand the benefits of studying in a non-native English speaking country, just as I did in France.


1. Host institutions offer classes taught in English

Although it may be difficult to gain your sense of direction at first in a different language, you don’t have to worry about the course material. All of the courses that you would be enrolled in are taught completely in English, allowing you the opportunity to focus on your studies just as you would at home.


2. Nonverbal Communication

Keep in mind the power of nonverbal communication. Approximately 93% of communication is nonverbal; therefore, your body language and tone can go a long way in expressing what you are trying to communicate, even if in another language. Try universal gestures to help narrow down what you are trying to communicate.


3. Google Translate

Surprisingly or unsurprisingly, Google Translate has come a long way in the last few years and can be used as a tool when you are communicating in another language. Google Translate can even be used without wifi if you download the specific language prior to using it. This app may become convenient when you are trying to go to the grocery store or make your way to campus prior to gaining your sense of direction in a new city.


4. English-Speaking Countries

If I haven’t convinced you yet of the ways to manage a study abroad in a country that speaks another language, keep in mind you can study in English speaking countries as well. Countries such as England and Australia can provide you with great educational opportunities as well as provide the comfort of knowing a language barrier won’t be add to your list of new changes upon arriving in the foreign country.

Related Posts