Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Language barriers

by : 
CharlotteM

For the next year I will be living in Italy, working as an English language assistant. The town I’m living in is very nice and the people I’ve met so far are very kind! It took me a few days but I finally found a place to live. It’s a very nice flat with a kitchen, bathroom and my own bedroom. There is also free Wi-Fi! I am living with one of the teachers from a local school, who is very kind. At the moment, it’s a bit tricky as we don’t always understand each other! This is known as a language barrier, when two people cannot communicate because they don’t have a language in common.

Over the past few days, I have learnt that it is very different speaking a language in real life situations than speaking it in the classroom. My teachers could explain things to me in English when I didn’t understand. My housemate doesn’t speak any English whatsoever. When I don’t know the word in Italian I try to explain it and when that doesn’t work I try to mime the thing I’m talking about. It seems like we are always playing a game of charades!

Yesterday, the internet wasn’t working and I had to ask my housemate where the router was so I could find the password for the Wi-Fi. I had no idea what the Italian word for  'router' was so I tried to explain it a couple of times. In the end, I called it the “internet box” and she understood what I meant! The funniest part was that the word is actually the same in Italian as it is in English, but she had no clue what a router was!

However, it isn’t all bad! When we finally understand each other, we both clap and have a little celebration. Sometimes I feel very embarrassed because I keep making a lot of mistakes, but my housemate corrects me nicely and tells me that I’m doing well! I can also feel my language improving because I have no choice but to speak Italian! I hope that I will be speaking like a real Italian by the time I leave. I’m determined to climb over this language barrier!

Discussion
Have you ever had to deal with a language barrier?