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Language Problems
Language Problems

Speaking a foreign language in a classroom is one thing, but living in a society where you have to use this language on a daily basis is completely different. Here are some language problems you may encounter while in the United States:
  • You might not understand the local accent right away. Regional accents vary greatly in the United States. In a group of people from all corners of the United States, Americans can usually easily pick out who is from Boston, New York, the Midwest, or the South, just by the way they speak. Give yourself time to get used to the local accent, and in time you will probably find yourself speaking in the same way.
  • Americans might not understand you right away. You will also have your own accent and you might use a different vocabulary. Try to speak slowly at first to make sure you are understood. Do not be shy to ask others to speak slowly if you have trouble understanding them.
  • Americans use a lot of slang and jargon in their speech. Their language is very colorful and full of imagery and it might take some time to completely understand it.
  • Humor, wit, and sarcasm are an integral part of American English. Some international students have trouble adapting to this informal style of conversation or understanding whether the person they are speaking with is being serious or not. This, however, should be interpreted as a mark of friendliness rather than a show of disrespect.
  • You might not know all of the abbreviations and technical terms used in your study program or workplace. Terms such as "poli sci" for political science, "dorms" for dormitories, or "TA" for teaching assistant, are just a few examples of campus slang you will encounter. The abbreviation is often the first syllable of the word or, if two or more words are together, their initials. If you do not understand a word or an abbreviation, simply ask the meaning.
Give yourself time to adapt to the language and do not hesitate to ask people to repeat what they have said, speak slowly, or explain what they mean. It would be wise to carry a small dictionary with you in case of emergency. Most importantly, do not be afraid to make mistakes. This will all be part of your learning experience.
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