Language Barrier

I struggle on an almost daily basis with the language barrier.

Now you may be fooled into thinking that this is simply a vague metaphor…a creation of our imagination to describe a certain feeling, when we cannot deliver our thoughts to another human. Well I can tell you now that the language barrier, is so very real – although I’d probably describe it as a language battering ram, if anything! As it hits me with such force, and leaves me very, very confused…with no idea what to do next…

Confused Guy GIF

I’m trying my best to learn Korean, but it is all happening very slowly…I need someone to constantly lie to me, you know…tell me I am amazing even though I am terrible, otherwise I just feel like setting myself on fire in protest. Or at least ripping up the book, and quitting.

I remember one time I spent ten minutes, trying to get the Korean pronunciation for syrup right in a cafe…sheerop, shurop, sherrup, shar…errr…in the end I just pointed, and smiled. The lady immediately understood: “ahhhhh, shueropu?” Yeah, sure. Whatever. Urghhh! 

It certainly makes me thankful for being back in the UK, where I can freely speak English without the language battering ram smashing into my face – reminding me how stupid I am, and how my pronunciation makes me sound “like a crazy alien” (actual quote from a bemused Korean guy).

Crazy Alien GIF

Funnily enough, I have just read a story on this subject which intrigued me a lot! You see apparently a young man was in some kind of horrific accident…the news said it was a car crash, but we know that we can’t ever fully trust the news – what is more likely is that it was the language battering ram! The reason I say this is that the guy woke up from a coma, and for some bizarre reason he found he could speak fluent Chinese. CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT?! And now he is working over there on television! I mean, I wish my Korean tutor would have told me it was that easy!!!!

I have to run, I am off to play in traffic! Wish me luck!

24 Replies to “Language Barrier”

  1. I would love to live/work in Japan (or Korea, Singapore, etc.) for a while. I know that if I went, I would always have to be “that retarded guy” everyone would see coming. Always confusing “chopsticks” and “the bridge”.


  2. I struggle with the English language. Yet I did try to learn German at one time. The only time I tried it in public was with my mates German family on a visit they were making to him when I was at his house.
    I tried my bit of a speech – never, but never have I seen a group of people laugh so much and heartily!
    That was the end of my trying to speak German!


    1. How interesting. I am Australian and my accent is often confused for South Africans or New Zealanders, but that is the first time I have ever heard of someone confusing a Southern accent for an Australian one 🙂


  3. Well, I can definitely sympathize. I tried for some time to master Spanish which is shamefully much simpler than Korean, not to mention the fact that I learned quite a bit in high school and have people constantly speaking and writing the language around me. The conjugations were my downfall!! Also, really needed someone who I could converse with in Spanish on a regular basis.


  4. Oh I feel your pain! After many years of classroom French in my student days, a lifetime ago, you’d think I would have learned enough to have a simple conversation…but no, it was not to be. I was / am forever defeated by my lack of ability to command a French accent…my son can mimic accents with ease and perfection. Hopefully you’ll get there in time. Living there should make it easier…I absolutely believe the way to truly learn another language is through immersion…the classroom approach alone will never do it! Good luck! I’ll look forward to hearing how it’s going! ~ Sheila


  5. I’m sure you’ll get the knack of it soon! Even growing up in a english speaking country I struggle with pronunciation too sometimes with English words haha.


  6. Have you studied anything to do with applied linguistics? I made leaps and bounds in my understanding and pronunciation in Spanish when taking my phonetics and phonology classes. I found them incredibly useful and the same skills can be applied to learning any language. The problem with Korea is that the average person is not used to a foreigner trying to pronounce their language (at least that’s what I and other people have found, and some Koreans have told me), so it’s almost like they don’t make an effort to understand, but it’s just that they don’t have that skill yet. I wish you well on your journey of language learning 🙂


  7. It is so hard hey. I lived in Guatemala for a while and I struggled with Spanish and I imagine that would be easier than Korean as a lot of words are the same or similar. Good luck!


  8. LOL. Gosh, I’m a Filipino and I grew up speaking 2 native languages, Tagalog, Cebuano and English the 3rd language. I sometimes lack confidence with my English vocabulary and grammar even though I have been writing and speaking it for more than a half of my life. I work in a call center and speak with Americans 10 hours a day, so language barrier is one of the problems I deal with. Some accents seems garbled in my ears, and some phrases means something else than how I understood it.


  9. Why Korean? Isn’t it one of the hardest languages to learn? I mean, this kind of language in which words pronounced with a wrong intonation can cause so much trouble. 😀


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