Language is one of the core factors of every human being. It helps us convey our thoughts and feelings into words perceivable to other people, it develops interpersonal connections and enriches us with new experiences. When we’re unable to understand what another person is saying, a language barrier is formed.
Although it’s one of the largest difficulties and challenges, there are a few very effective ways to overcome it successfully.
1. Buy a Phrasebook
If you need a quick, bare-bones introduction to a language, phrasebooks remain an irreplaceable option. While they won’t give you any detailed insight into the core structure of the language, they’re extremely easy to use on the spot as all of the sentences are already written out. Depending on the nature of the topic that you’re aiming for, you can find phrasebooks that are specialized for medicinal, touristic, or general conversation purposes.
They come in all shapes and sizes while being fairly inexpensive – if you like to travel light, heftiness won’t be an issue as most of them are pocketable. In addition, most phrasebooks have a section specifically for phonetics to help you learn the pronunciation of specific words. However, keep in mind that phrasebooks will only get you so far. If you try to engage in detailed conversations, this tiny utility won’t be too helpful.
2. Download a Dictionary
The old-fashioned, physical dictionaries which were made up of thousands of pages have long since been replaced by their digital counterparts. While you can easily use them over the Internet, getting a local copy will save you a lot of money that would otherwise go to waste on data roaming usage. Nowadays there are a lot of different variations, with arguably the most popular one being Google Translate.
The main benefits of an offline dictionary are ease of use, accessibility and interactivity. With over 100 billion translations done on a daily basis, most conversions are fully precise and grammatically correct. Most of these dictionaries also come with a text to speech option, which can be quite useful if you’re having trouble with pronunciation. Furthermore, downloading an additional language is only a few taps away.
3. Bring Someone Along
If it’s your first time in a foreign city and you’re unfamiliar with the language, it’s always in your best interest to have someone by your side who’s more knowledgeable than you. Ideally, this should be a friend of yours or someone that you know fairly well. Even if he’s not an expert, figuring things out as you go along is a lot easier when there are two of you. There’s also the possibility of splitting the tasks between you in order to maximize your efficiency if you wish to do so.
Another option is to hire a professional tour guide. These people are usually proficient in both the native language of the country as well as your own, which makes it quite easy to learn the essentials. Alongside showing you all of the important places in the city, the guide will also teach you all of the common questions that you might encounter or that you’ll need to ask. While this option will cost you some money, it’s quite effective since you’ll have a personal “teacher”.
4. Make Acquaintances
The best way to break the language barrier is with the help of a native from the city. However, this method of meeting random people can also be a bit dangerous since you won’t know what the person is like. Fortunately, there is a way with which you can ensure your safety by finding out all of the essential details about anyone you might encounter, as long as you have their phone number.
You’ll achieve this with the help of Spokeo, a reverse phone lookup tool that creates this list of tips. When you input the number and start a scan, Spokeo cross-references hundreds of thousands of different records between different databases, attempting to find matches that most closely resemble the inputted phone number. When it finds the ones that satisfy its criteria, Spokeo returns a report with a lot of useful information – most importantly the person’s social media profiles.
All that’s left for you to do is to sift through all of the profiles and see if there are any red flags. The person’s likes and posts will reference his/her interests in real life, so you can immediately gain an insight into their personality. Once you’ve found out all that you need to know, you can put your mind at ease and proceed with getting to know each other. If you’re unsatisfied with the number of results that Spokeo returned, running an email search afterward is likely going to yield a lot more additional information.
Maguire Haigh is a content marketing manager for Spokeo. He is an expert in the business sphere. He prefers writing articles on marketing, social media presence, travel, and startup topics. Maguire has great experience in traveling and deep knowledge of 5 foreign languages.