TED Conversations

Dong-Kuen Oh

cadet, soon to be officer, Chosun Univ

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

How do you overcome a language barrier(especially English)??

There is no doubt that English is an international language. So, many many people are trying to learn English, or some people struggle to learn other languages. However learning other languages is really difficult and needs lots of efforts and time.

Personally, I also try to learn English. Here is my question; How do you overcome a language barrier? Please share your ideas, know-how, episode, and whatever :)

+1
Share:
progress indicator
  • thumb
    May 30 2011: Immersion seems to be the most useful tool for language acquisition. Being constantly exposed to the language that you are trying to learn is key to familiarizing yourself with it. Besides for Immersion there are many valuable techniques and practices one can do to better their grasp of a language, but HABIT is the foundation. Develop daily habits of vocabulary building, and spend some time learning the grammar and syntax as well, then use your new words and skills as often as possible. Set a number of new words that you would like to learn per day, make flashcards, and categorize them as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs pronouns, etc.
    A great way to learn a language is by watching children's cartoons as the language tends to be slowly spoken, simple and comprehensible at a low level.
    There are many levels of linguistic proficiency, the highest measure proposed by the linguist Noam Chomsky is of cultural proficiency.
    Example: A child is not considered a proficient speaker until that child learns the more nuanced cultural rules of conversation. Young children often say things that are considered inappropriate in social contexts, it is when a child learns the accepted norms of conversational exchange that they are finally considered proficient, similarly when a non-native speaker learns the cultural contexts of the language they are considered proficient. With diligent study a high level of proficiency can be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time.
  • thumb
    May 30 2011: Dear Dong-Kuen Oh,

    I am not an expert in this but I think that part of what is needed to overcome language barriers is something more than learning words and sentences. One must begin to think as the others in another language thinks. How is that done? Even more than body language as Salim suggest below (which is an excellent suggestion) you have to begin to know things like the fairy tales of a culture that all people of hat culture know. For example if I say 'the water mother' to someone from China the whole story pops into your mind. You know what she looks like and what her personalityis like and what she did. (I got that from Wikipedia and I hope it is actually meaningful)
    Just the same, people from English speaking countries have many story and movie images already in our minds and in our talking to one another we share those short form understanding.
    So my suggestion is to try to read the literature of the other culture starting with prominent children's literature - which is usually some of the most wonderful literature anyway!
    If I have not made my points clearly - i will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
  • thumb
    May 27 2011: You overcome a "language barrier" by studying language. The study of language is called linguistics. If you are interested in learning a language for free, www.duolingo.com is looking to be a pretty decent learning software. It hasn't been launched yet, but you can signup for notifications regarding the sites progress.
    • thumb
      May 30 2011: Hello again Dong- Kuen Oh, I have been searching the internet for information that might help and I have found two entries on language barrier that might help a bit. I hope you can access them from where you are.

      Young People discussing the problems of language barriers

      http://youtu.be/rBG05WXztqo

      Language Barriers in Marketing:

      http://youtu.be/3vR8WOEcqpw

      On another thread, I have asked others if they have any knowledge that can help. I hope others with skills and knowledge will join us here.
  • thumb
    May 26 2011: Understadning and using body language is an easy way out. As body language covers bigger portion of communication... as said 'Only 7% of our communication is communicated through verbal words.

    Please check two links below
    http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/102425/Body_Language:_A_Key_to_Success_in_the_Workplace

    http://www.bodylanguageexpert.co.uk/communication-what-percentage-body-language.html
    • thumb
      May 27 2011: Thanks you for your comment. Body language is essential part of communication. But, sometimes, you have to depend on just verbal words of language, such as job interview on the phone, essay for university admission. In this situation, how we deal with?
      • thumb
        May 27 2011: Hi Dong
        You are welcome.
        You are right job interview over phone don't offer the opportunities of observing body language however , as whole talking over phone even in you own language is a different communication skill.
        Articles in above links saying about also the tone of voice, pitch of your voice etc can be applied in Phone interview as well. But yes it's a bit difficult.

        Yes the point of writing skill is different and when it is an essay. Though I don't know why university puts that criteria for admission? Well it's their area they can do so , because they don't prepare anyone for society they just sell Certification.

        English is not my motther tongue as well . But what I used to improve ( I am not good still now) & is still doing is for spoken fluency , when I was in Unversity with one of my friend I decided every at least 1 hour we will speak only English , with out bothering about right or wrong gramatically. That helped I guess both of us.
        For written English , I am greatly indebted to my father until I didn't go in Unversity dorm since my childhood I have to translate a para or two of my langauge in to english every evening and show it to him. Then while in unversity again , I started reading more English Newspaper, literatures etc to improve as I was doing my gradutaion on wards in English medium.
      • thumb
        May 31 2011: AS to something like a university essay, making a friend in the foreign language through a site that specializes in ESL like Dave's cafe might be a good idea. There you will find people who are interested in such work who might be willing to help you.

        EVen here at TED you might find a friend.
  • thumb
    May 30 2011: I found this academic article which might or might not help. I found it to be good for me a person interested in helping you to overcome a language barrier, to understand the issues of language barriers better.

    International Journal of Human and Social Sciences 5:8 2010

    http://www.waset.org/journals/ijhss/v5/v5-8-80.pdf