Of all the challenges that enters peoples minds when considering moving internationally, one of the most common ones is the potential language barrier of living in a new country. Some people look at this as a deterrent to moving abroad, while others see it as an exciting challenge, a chance to learn a new language. In fact, there are three types of situations you may face: there are countries where English is either the predominate language or at least one that is fairly widely spoken, countries where English is not a main language but most people have a decent grasp of it and you can get by speaking it in most daily encounters, and other countries where you really need to learn the local language if you hope to communicate effectively.
Facts on International Moving and Language Barriers
Here are the top 10 countries for number of English speakers:
- United States
- United Kingdom
Obviously there are some countries in that list that have primary languages other than English, but it goes to show just how universal the English language has become. There are not too many parts of the world where you cannot communicate at least at some level in English. So in most cases people should not let a potential language barrier dissuade them from making an international move.
In most parts of Europe, for example, children are taught a certain degree of English in the school systems. Many people you will meet there will actually enjoy the opportunity to speak English to a native English speaker. Furthermore, in business settings in particular, English will likely be the language most used, especially within companies that conduct business globally.
Learning the Spoken Language in a New Country
If you are the type of person who looks at an international move as the perfect chance to learn a new language, here are some ways you can make the most of the opportunity.
- Many countries offer second language classes for new immigrants and often times they are free. They will start at the very basic level and you will be able to work up at your own pace.
- Although English television programs are often available in other countries, try to watch shows in the local language. If you watch English movies, turn on the subtitles and try to pick up a few words.
- Read the local newspaper. Newspapers are written at a fairly basic reading level, so use your dictionary and try to add a few new words to your vocabulary every day.
- Practice your language skills as much as possible with your local friends. Put your pride aside and be willing to make mistakes.
- Language learning software can also be helpful.
By being patient with yourself but immersing yourself as much as possible on a daily basis with your new language you will be surprised how quickly you can learn. In most places you will be able to fall back to English if you get stumped.