Don’t let language be your barrier

Working in Shanghai made me realised language is a huge barrier when it comes to communication especially between two countries that doesn’t speak the same native language. Not that I don’t speak Chinese or English, the matter of fact, both languages are my native tongue. From young, my school emphasizes on bilingual teachings. However, I have seen so much great talents missing out on opportunities or promotion because of language being their biggest obstacle. And it’s truly frustrating to know that someone who is absolutely the right fit for the role, armed with rich experience and right knowledge yet missed out because he or she is unable to communicate due to language barrier.

It is the same in the blogosphere. While the main language widely used here is English, there are followers of mine who writes in French, Spanish, Malay, Italian and Hindu. This limit their scope of audience and frustrated me as it limits my reading material.

But do we shrug and just walk away from the problem? Or do we do something about it? If there’s a problem, there is always a solution. Sometimes there are more than one solution if you can look from different angles.

For example, I have given advises to folks who wish to advance further into their career to start searching for language courses. It can be expensive reputable courses offered by Wall St. English, British Council or self learning online courses. You can even opt in to hire a personal tutor or join Meet up groups that gathered weekly to practice their English with foreigners and in turn, the foreigners practice their Mandarin. Whatever you do, you need to take a step towards removing your obstacles. Whining alone will not get you anywhere.

For the solution in having readers who don’t write in English on their blogs, I will Google Translate their page and still get to enjoy the meaning of the post. Perhaps I probably can’t do that to poems (the true meaning will be lost” however I definitely can get around normal postings.

When I went to Vienna two months ago, as much as the local folks that usually speaks German, they willingly switched to English without much hesitation when they need to communicate with me. Some even to look up on online dictionary to make sure they got their vocabulary right. Kudos to their perseverance.

Learning a new skill can be daunting and especially you are not keen on it, the journey may be tough however, if you don’t take the first step, you’ll never arrive in the spot you need to go.

To further strengthen your language skills, other than just purely attending courses, you can do the following:

IMG_2402– Read more in the language you are learning. Read in a topic that perks your interest and you tend to want to read more.

file0002037881722– Watch movies and drama series in the foreign language. You’ll find that soon enough you’ll learn to identify certain repeated words.

file0002096825108– Shop online in the foreign language. This is a simpler and a quicker way to learn basic business transactional terms in the foreign language.

4914478820_984e05149d_o– Practice your language on a stranger is a good way to practice what you have learn and if the stranger understands you, it is a confident booster!!

So don’t ever allow something as basic as simple as language proficiency be the bottleneck of your dream career, reach out and find a way to overcome this. Don’t lose your opportunities because of it. Find a walk-around solution to it.

So do you have a language you always wanted to learn? So what is stopping you? Share with us under comments.



  1. English is not my favourite foreign language, but only few people want to speak French which I like much more. Besides, there are always non-verbal possibilities (i. e. pictures, photographs, symbols, gestures etc.) to communicate also here on WordPress which are normally understood worldwide. If people are a bit flexible then things will be much easier.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The great Irish poet George Bernard Shaw once stated that “England and the United states were two great countries separated by a common language.” Having said that I believe that the best way to learn another language is total immersion in that language. not just taking a class and spending an hour or two a day practicing it, but a 24/7 immersion until mastery is achieved.
    I know some people who speak Spanish and English and they actually spend half of the year with their Spanish speaking relatives and six months with their English speaking relatives in order to keep that edge required to be truly bilingual.
    I don’t know about Austria but in Germany, by the time a student graduates from high school, they have studied English for 12 years and are really proficient in the language.
    Great writing and a really excellent topic to write about Kally. 5 stars…..

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hey, Kevin!! Thank you for your continuous encouragements! I have met people who refused to bend and not adapting to the notion that the world is changing and we need to learn more, challenge ourselves in order to progress with time. Learning a new language somehow opens up a lot of opportunities and creates a mutual understanding. Meanwhile, use the tools! Google translate is there for a reason.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post! Something I’ve always found helpful (just a small thing) is to label household items in the language you are trying to learn. When you see the labels everyday, your subconscious mind will begin to integrate them into your conscious mind, and even though this is only vocabulary, it will eventually, with a little study, enhance grammar. There are few things that earn people’s respect like attempting to learn their language.
    The most important things to learn in any language are “hello”, thank you”, and “I apologise.” Thank you for the post, apologise for ranting!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Great points. Our own cell devices may be a big help when it comes to the language barrier. There are free phone apps that will translate spoken language and written text into other languages immediately. Point it at text and the phone screen shows whatever language you choose. Relying on devices to do this isn’t as good as speaking the language but it could help a person learn. I think that we’re all a short ways away from language translation being as simple as slipping on a headset.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. English is my second foreign language I learnt after Arabic (as I studied at Islamic School during The Elentary). English is a must for every job market, but for me, it’s not enough for only mastering English. But, sometimes when I want to speak one other language, nobody even supports me such as when I tried to speak another language in this site, they often reply in English. That’s what I hate…and even discouraged me to learn more. 🙂

    But allright, I don’t care about it anymore. I just work and write as far as I can.

    By the way….my mother tongue is also two : Javanese (with local and standard dialects as well as its social dialects) and Bahasa Indonesia. I also sometimes speak Madurese and English surely. I teach computer in English for grade 3 and Bahasa Indonesia in grade 4. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s very true. When I was in Shanghai, my English suffered from lack of usage. So I made sure I watched at least one episode of American or English drama series or movie every single day and conversed in English with my family through FaceTime for practice purposes sake.


  6. I used to be a language teacher. I taught English and is however frustrating to know that even in the academic world language is stilla problem. for one, a math teacher will be criticised for not speaking English correctly; or a philosophy teacher will be humiliated for using the English language the wrong way..but the question is: would a math teacher becomes ineffective if he doesn’t speak correct English? after all he’ s teaching math…the same thing goes to the philosophy teacher..although I do not undermine the fact that being an academicians one has to learn the language correctly…what I am ranting here is: wherever we go, whatever we do, whoever we are- we all experience problems in communication due to language barriers. what do we do then? as what Kally said find ways to learn…


    • Well, life is always a constant learning process. Who we are if we stop learning and progressing? It’s in us, whether it is to learn a new language or a new skill or even a new knowledge today. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Really, you hit the nail by the head. Language shouldn’t be the barrier to a person becoming what he/she should become but this is what we sometimes experience in life. So, based on your advice, we will endeavor to come out of this problem. Thanks my dear.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My MOMMY speaks 3 languages. She uses them every day. So it is easy to stay good at it. But you are right if 2 people meet that do not speak e. g. english as a native language english is quite difficult due to culture translations. German and Indian speaking english ocurs to be quite difficult. Your blog was very nice to read. Love Odie

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Most of my professional life I worked with a large population of Spanish speaking people. I do not speak Spanish and would sometimes find myself without my trusty interpreter. It always stunned me when the people would welcome me into their homes, tolerate my loud talking (because that makes up for not knowing their language, right?) , gesturing, smiling and shrugging and would then, in halting English apologize to me that they did not speak my language so well. I would quickly mangle some Spanish in an attempt to show them I really didn’t know what I was doing and would express awe at their ability with English which is NOT the easiest language to learn. Frequently these people knew multiple languages while I struggled with my native language. People are amazing!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I’m glad you tried your very best to get to know them and understand them. You’ll find that if you mingle with them long enough, you’ll get to understand what they are saying by picking out the gestures and body language and of course, repeated words.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I know all too well the frustrations of trying to learn another language. I have worked in several different countries, and been fortunate enough to visit several more on holiday, and I am always impressed and humbled when I come across people of all ages and backgrounds who can speak English as well as their own native language.
    Two years ago I was working in Germany and decided to take German in evening classes. I can now order food and ask a few basic questions in German. The German colleagues I worked with were almost astounded that an Englishman had tried to learn their language as it was not necessary for work or even to live there.
    My level of German is extremely basic and whenever I used German if I was out and about the people would invariably reply to me in English. This frustrated me hugely and whenever I asked them why they did this (“why are you speaking to me in English, I’m trying to speak German to you, a German as I am in Germany!?”) they would always reply, ‘because we love to practice our English on a native speaker! Frustrating, but understandable too I guess.
    They were, without exception impressed that I knew even a few basic phrases though, and so my confidence was not completely shattered!
    I am now living and working back in England and two weeks ago I decided I wanted to re-start my German learning. There are two reasons for this: firstly my brain needs to be stimulated and challenged so I needed to undertake some sort of learning project. Secondly I looked back and thought what a waste it would be if I didn’t continue what I had started.
    So now I have enrolled in a couple of online language courses, I have several language apps in use on my phone, and I have a German language radio station pre-set in my car.
    I have to be honest and say it is very daunting and difficult, and I still ‘freeze’ when I try and read written text that I can’t understand, but I am determined to stick at it.
    My inspiration? Blogs like yours, some of the comments in reply to your blog about language barriers, and my first hand experience of meeting so many non English people who speak my language so well. It’s an epic journey ahead of me but I’m underway!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My language skills are not fantastic, but I have a colleague who speaks about six languages fluently. (She has listed them all for me once or twice, but there are so many of them I always seem to forget the number ten minutes later.) She says one of the most important things about using a foreign language is not to be intimidated by it. Just be willing to use what you know, and gradually what you know will expand. Anyway, it seems to have worked well for her.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Apart from English, I learnt Japanese as well..but never really got a chance to speak Japanese in my country, until just last month I found out that my manager in new workplace is a Japanese woman. I started learning again and she looked so happy when I can try to speak in her native language!

    Thanks for posting this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I have been trying to learn a language for more than 10 years, taken/taking classes… I just can’t get hold of it. I’m not particularly good at any language, perhaps excluding English, which I would say is alright but not up to literary standards… Haven’t quit trying to learn though…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. thank you Kally for this tuto
    I’m applying this tittle: don’t let your langage be your barrier in the world of blogging and I have positive result for visiting and communicating with english blog, spanish blog, chenese blog and …

    Liked by 1 person

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