“Without language you can’t feel that you have a legitimate, respected presence. You are without a voice, without power.” ~Jhumpa Lahiri

Human beings experience a language barrier when they are unable to communicate using a language. Even people with eyesight, hearing and speech impairments communicate using braille and sign language. Gestures, expressions, emotions and body language are also common methods of conveyance. Difficulties arise when we are unable to understand and if prolonged, serious problems can be expected. People begin experiencing emotional trauma and then depression sets in. 

There are several causes of language barriers. When people speaking different languages interact, they do not understand each other so there is no point of communication. For example; only 49% of Pakistanis speak or understand English as a second language. The usage of words and accents of people coming from various countries and backgrounds differ even if their spoken language is the same. Conflicts arise if interpretations, meanings and conclusions of words are different. An Italian will most likely not understand a Sri-Lankan, even if they both are speaking English. Words and phrases used by a particular age group may not be interpreted the same way as another. For example, BRB for some may mean to be right back while others may understand it as a bathroom break. 

Clearance of speech is the third cause of a language barrier. People suffering from a hearing problem like Tinnitus can easily misunderstand what is being said, if the speech isn’t loud and clear enough. People who mumble and speak softly may cause hurdles for others. Slangs and technical words or words only understood by people belonging to the same walks of life (jargons) can also cause language barriers. Your choice of words is the fifth reason. Sarcasm can be interpreted literally. Homonyms, similes, proverbs and metaphors can also be misunderstood.

Education, intelligence and knowledge together are another cause. Well-versed people use words that may not even be known by illiterate or not-so-smart people. This way, the original message may be misinterpreted or totally not understood. Similarly, grammatical and spelling variations can cause barriers. Language handicaps, physical or mental disabilities, various noises, nervousness, fear, taboos, lack of attention or interest, expectations and prejudices are some of the more causes of language barriers. 

Effective communication is always void of language barriers. Hard work, patience, practicing till perfection, learning with teachers and interpreters, translations, audiovisual aids, taking language classes and not giving up are the key solutions to successfully overcoming your weakness. People can start using simple language, irrespective of their own and other people’s caliber. Get your point across in the easiest way possible. Start taking language classes from a professional or ask a friend to help you. If you lack time or can’t afford a tutor, free online services are your answer. 

Hiring the services of a professional interpreter to make sure nothing is misunderstood or left out is also a wise decision. If you’re an entrepreneur, you can hire a proper language teacher or enroll all your employees at a recognized language centre. Technology and audiovisual aids these days can readily be utilized. Using diagrams, images, videos, flash cards, games etc makes learning easy and interesting for all ages. Not only children but even adults may not grasp it in the very first attempt. Hence, repetition on a regular basis with interactive activities over several weeks will bear fruit. Nobody likes being scolded or being mocked at. A language hurdle doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is stupid or slow. Some linguistics are extremely difficult to memorize, especially if there are no practicals. Try taking things slower but steadier and you’re going to win the race! 

Self-help is the golden rule everywhere. One should never underestimate his/her abilities and potential. You can stand in front of the mirror every day and speak to yourself. Build your confidence and learn to believe in yourself. If you can identify your shortcomings and keep the ability to correct them, either yourself or through aid, nobody can stop you from becoming a language star!

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A Grammarian by schooling, I am the conduit between a brand and a consumer professionally. I help clients find the subject and medium that best fits their unique identity and then I produce high-quality content that meets their objectives. I enjoy generating new ideas and devising feasible strategies.Currently, I am the SEO Content Writer at a renowned steel rebar manufacturing company and a freelance Content Writer. My specialties include SEO Content Writing with Keywords, Social Media Management, Copywriting, Blogging and Product Descriptions.

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