Language Preparation

Overcoming Language Barriers
It is common to have a bit of apprehension about traveling to a country where you do not speak the native language. Whether you are participating in a program to learn the language, or you are at a university that teaches courses in English, you will need to learn the basics of the language in order to survive.  


Brush up on your language skills with BBC Online Language Courses/Quizzes.

Your experience will be significantly enhanced if you consistently try to develop your language skills. In most cases, you will find that the local people will appreciate your attempt in learning the language and will try to help you.

If you are going to a non-English-speaking country, you should make a strenuous effort to learn the language spoken in that country. Students who have studied abroad regularly report that their single biggest regret was not knowing more of the local language before going.

It is recommended that you participate in a beginner's class, read books, or listen to tapes prior to your departure in order to become familiar with the language. Basic phrases will be essential to your success during the first few weeks of your study abroad program. At a minimum, you need to know how to say:

  • Hello
  • Please
  • Thank you
  • You're welcome
  • Excuse me
  • I'm sorry
  • Can you help me?
  • Please speak more slowly
  • Can you repeat that?
  • How do you say _____?
  • What does _____ mean?
  • Do you understand?
  • My name is __________
  • Nice to meet you
  • Where is _______?
  • How much does this cost?
  • 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
  • Where is the bathroom?
  • Leave me alone or I'll call the police

Focus on improving your speaking skills. Visualize yourself arriving at the airport and needing to attend to your basic needs. There are many language tapes available for students wishing to study on their own. Especially noteworthy is the Pimsleur's series, available at Barnes & Noble.


For those students who are advanced in the native language, it is critical that you take full advantage of this opportunity to further develop and refine your language skills. It is likely that, even though you have studied the language in the classroom, you may struggle with adjusting once you arrive at your program destination. Consider listening to tapes, reading newspapers, watching films, or talking with natives to hone your skills.


Page last modified January 8, 2013