If you will be welcoming an international student into your home soon, you may be wondering how in the world you will overcome the language barrier. This can feel especially intimidating if you have no knowledge of the child’s native language. It becomes even more difficult if the student also has very limited knowledge of English.
Fortunately, there are ways around this seemingly impossible-to-scale language barrier. Below are a few of our favorite tips for communicating with non-English speakers and helping them learn to understand and speak the language.
Speak Slowly and Clearly
The first step in helping a person understand your speech is to slow down. This gives the listener time to process what you are saying—something that is difficult to do when you are learning a new language. Additionally, speaking clearly can help with this, as garbled or slurred words are often difficult to decipher.
That said, you never want to make your visitor feel as though you look down on them. Therefore, speaking too loudly, slowing down to an unreasonable pace, and over-enunciating should all be avoided, as they could be viewed as forms of mockery.
Check for Understanding
When speaking with someone who is new to English, it is a good idea to check for understanding regularly. Asking the child to repeat important instructions or information back to you will let you know whether or not they understood you, and will help the information stick with them. Additionally, repeating things is a great way to help those who understand but do not usually speak a language to begin speaking more fluently.
Slang words and figures of speech can be incredibly confusing for those who are just learning a language, especially when those individuals are coming from a different culture entirely. Therefore, it is best to avoid slang until your international friend has a good handle on the language and will have a better time making out what you are trying to say.
Use Visual Communication Methods
Using motions and facial expressions in addition to language when you are trying to communicate is a great way to get your point across when a person has difficulty understanding words alone. Therefore, it is best to communicate in person whenever possible, and use plenty of expressive movements in order to give the student clues as to what you are saying.
Encourage Peer Interaction
A language is best learned when it is used on a regular basis and when it is useful. Therefore, encouraging peer interaction can be a great way to help a student learn English. Making English-speaking friends will require that the young person develops an understanding of the language in order to communicate, and the fact that those friends are in a similar place in life will give the student incentive to communicate.
Invest in One-on-One Education
All international students should be given the option of one-on-one education whenever possible. Private instruction from an understanding teacher will ensure that the student is given the time they need to grasp concepts despite the language barrier. It will also allow them plenty of opportunities to ask questions to the best of their ability without feeling awkward or silly.
By following the tips above, you will be effectively communicating with your international student in no time. Until then, try to practice patience while this young friend of yours tries to get a handle on the new language and culture surrounding them.
Are you interested in learning more about the possibility of one-on-one education for an international student in your life? We would love to chat with you about our offerings here at Tenney School. Please contact us for more information.