When you are at work, school, university, or anywhere else where people might speak different languages and you want to communicate with them: how do you go about it? How can we overcome the language barrier and connect with people who don’t speak our language? Maybe we will become friends. Perhaps we will understand each other and chat with each other, even if we don’t speak the same language.
How to speak with people who don’t speak your language.
The basics of communication.
To communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language, it is important that you have some of the most basic of social skills. You need to be able to look at someone, express yourself (verbally or non-verbally), and talk with them in order to establish a connection with them. So if you are interested in finding out how to do this, check out these articles where I talk about body language, the power of a touch, and how to make people like you. If you want some verbal assistance one way or another, you can also try my article on improving and creating effective communication.
The power of body language.
We all know that body language is important in order to communicate with someone, but did you know that it might be your best weapon? The way you look at other people can help them understand what you are trying to say. You can use this so-called “universal language” to look at the person you are talking to in a friendly manner, and they will get the signal. If they do not, repeat the process until they reciprocate your look or give some other sign of interest (e.g., smiling back or asking if everything is alright). Furthermore, always have good posture while doing this – stand tall and show determination but not aggression. This will also make you look more confident and interesting in the eyes of the person you are trying to talk to.
The power of touch.
If a handshake, a hug, or any other form of touch is appropriate, then go for it! You can use this form of communication to establish a connection with someone who doesn’t speak your language. In addition, if you have already interacted with this person before, they will likely be more comfortable around you and easier for you to connect with them. As always, though, take into account local customs and practice touching people in non-intimate places. If in doubt, don’t do it.
Find common ground.
Not everyone likes talking about their work, so why not find out what is important in their lives? Maybe you can find out what kind of food they like, if they like sports and games. There are many ways to establish a connection with someone, and it’s worth investing time into these things to make sure that you get along when conversing with them.
Don’t stick too close to this topic.
It might seem like common sense but establishing a connection is easier if two people talk about things other than the weather (especially in countries where it hardly ever changes – such as Greece!). If possible, try finding out about their favorite music, films, or TV shows. This will give you something else to talk about and keep the conversation going for longer.
When you don’t speak a language, it takes a lot of effort to understand what the person in front of you is saying. More often than not, if their English is not very good, they might speak slowly or use simple sentences to understand better. In addition, sometimes people talk very fast, and at other times they mumble – these are all normal things that anyone who does not speak your language will do, so it’s best to bear this in mind.
On the flip side, sometimes people assume you can’t understand them out of arrogance or ignorance. Therefore, remember that you can choose not to react if someone’s English is not very good and try again later. Also, you can always resort to asking your friend for help or using body language; remember that it might take a while before you manage to understand the other person fully.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Even after doing all of these things, some people will still keep their distance from you because they feel insecure about speaking English in front of you. If this happens, don’t get too annoyed – maybe they are really shy people who need more time than others. Nowadays, making friends is hard regardless of whether or not two people speak the same language, so make sure you are patient with them. Moreover, there is a lot to be said for learning a language from scratch, and the person in front of you is a perfect example of this.
You can’t always rely on your body.
This might seem obvious, but sometimes people run out of things to say, even if they are sitting right across from you. Therefore, remember that it is important to use your words as well as gestures and signs – otherwise, this could lead to an awkward silence! In fact, the more confident you appear, the more likely it is for someone else to feel comfortable around you. So stand up straight, speak clearly, and don’t mumble! Believe in yourself a little bit.
In order to keep a conversation going with someone who doesn’t speak English, it’s important to try and establish a connection with them. This can be done by talking about things other than the weather, working out what is important in their life, or asking questions if there is silence. Everyone learns languages at different speeds, so keep working on your communication skills – you’ll soon get there! You need to be patient, confident and above all, not take it personally if the other person isn’t very communicative.