COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE.
I can hear you now, “I’m brand new to this country, just getting my feet wet with the language and now you’re riding me to communicate? I’m doing the best I can!” Before you come at me, hear me out. I know you are trying to keep pace with the new language swirling around you. But there is one area where I urge you to take special care with how you communicate and that’s with your new supervisor or supervisors at work. Focus on these relationships and get out ahead of any possible breakdowns in communication before they can happen. Be proactive in telling them what you need (nicely, of course). In particular, ask them to speak slower so you can more fully grasp what’s being said. Request video calls whenever possible when a conference call is needed as it’s much easier to track the language when you can see faces. Also if there is local slang or idioms being used (or you suspect there are), ask for context so you can learn as you go. You may feel a little nervous or awkward to interject at first but trust me when I say that any supervisor worth their salt will be very grateful for your efforts to be successful and it will demonstrate that you are serious about mastering the language. Your confidence will grow as you take ownership for your personal learning process, too.
SLOW DOWN (YOU’LL GET MORE DONE)
From a mental well-being perspective, try to take each day as it comes and make the most of that day — and that day only. Some of us are natural worriers and want to know how things will be in three, six or 12 months. By doing one day at a time, you can keep your focus on the here and now and prevent unnecessary projection into the future. This can be easier said than done but it’s worth the effort. This can also help you manage your own expectations, too, and perhaps avoid some disappointment about how you think things are “supposed to go.” If you’re not the anxious type, slowing down is still beneficial as, depending on your circumstances, your time abroad may not be indefinite and you’ll really want to soak up the experience while actually there and living it.
SOMETIMES YOU WANNA GO WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR LANGUAGE
This tip is a bold one: try your best to make local friends (those speaking your 2nd language) and avoid hanging out too much with people who speak your language. Failure to adapt to new location is one of the top reasons that a relocation fails. You owe it to yourself to stretch beyond your comfort level and the local language barriers. It is tempting to go where it’s comfortable, of course, and we’re not saying never hang with those who speak your language. But you don’t want to miss precious opportunities to enmesh yourself in the culture and get local support, which will only increase your likelihood that your relocation will stick. Good ways to go about connecting with the culture include joining a local club that does what you like: basketball, running, reading, news, politics, etc.
WHEN IN ROME
And lastly, invest in your own learning curve, aka get language training with a fluency coach. But in all seriousness, you can greatly diminish the (certain) frustration, (possible) isolation and (guaranteed) length of time it takes to grasp a new language by working with a coach on a consistent basis – the minimum hours per week should be 2, but really, as many as possible. When you’re more steady on your feet when it comes to language, many of the problems and irritations you may encounter in day-to-day life as an expat can shrink or fade away all together. A language coach can also help you with culture specifics that may be confusing to you. So if you haven’t already looked into training, reach out to us and find out what your options are, be it one on one training or classes, local or remote.
Fluency Corp can help your employees and their families assimilate to their country, city and neighborhood through private English lessons (or other languages) in home, in office or online. We transform communication with employees and their families so the success of international relocations are greatly increased.