Intercultural Relationships Part 2: Navigating the language barrier

language barriers in relationships

In part 1, I talked about how to navigate cultural issues. What about when this is compounded by a language barrier? Your home will probably have a dominant language, the one that both of you speak well enough to communicate in. This may be your native language, your partners, or perhaps even a third language which is a second language for both (such as the official language of the country you’re living in, and the couple have no other common language).

Most people can’t or don’t communicate effectively with people who already speak their native language, and we are unfortunately living in an era of declining social skills. When your partner is from a different language background, effective communication skills become even more important.

With the following advice I’m assuming there is enough language skill for most day-to-day communication, that you can generally understand each other, but may have occasional miscommunications or misunderstandings. These may arise from grammatical mistakes, misused or confused vocabulary, difficulty expressing complex ideas or forming complex sentences, etc.