Since globalization hits it off in the world, many people found themselves dating or being interested in dating someone who doesn’t share their native language. It has its own peculiarities. Small research made by Vocabulary Miner and Itálie v Brně (Italy in Brno) collected first-hand experiences and advice from 10 Czech women in long-term bilingual relationships.
Yes, such a relationship can work but you have to work on it
Relationships, especially with language barriers, need a huge focus on effective communication. A multilingual relationship will take many more gestures, active listening, and much more patience. It is important to remember that sometimes your partner is not saying what you THINK they are. Learn to find out more about what they truly mean before jumping into upset conclusions.
Eri, a Czech digital nomad, who is in a relationship with an American gives a heads up: ”The language barrier has certainly an impact on our relationship. Relationship with someone who speaks a different language is like a never-ending language training.”
“Sometimes you find yourselves talking at cross purposes,” Lenka, living in Malaysia with a Malaysian, explains their communication barriers.
Family, emotions and public offices can make it difficult
Usually one of the partners learns the language of the other or they communicate in English. But there are still both partners’ families who might have problems understanding.
“My partner comes from a small town in Tuscany with a specific dialect. It was such a failure to listen so thoroughly to his family speaking and yet not understanding a single word. And his granny…she was a real head-scratcher. I usually answered something totally different from what she asked me. Now I can chat with her and that’s something,” Míša says about Czech-Italian family issues.
“The language barrier rises up every time we visit my parents in the Czech Republic. They do not speak English or Italian, so they cannot even chit-chat,” Markéta who now teaches Italian, sheds a light from the other side.
In such cases, it can be helpful to learn the very basics of the “parents’” language. For useful basic words like Goodbye, Hello, I need, I’m not sure etc., look for the Wordlist “Travel” in Flashcard app Vocabulary Miner in 15 languages.
The language barrier in multilingual relationships causes that partners are not able to express exactly what they want..
“The biggest misunderstandings arise when you start to boil with emotions and need to express your grievance. You need to speak clearly, simmer down, but exactly in these moments, you are especially hindered by language barriers,“ Eri recalls when looking at their Czech-American relationship.
A few words can make the difference
Martina, in her Czech-Turkey relationship, advises to learn everyday expressions – how to buy a bus ticket or food, and ask for directions – in your partner’s mother tongue. Michaela’s Italian boyfriend learns at least general vocabulary like the names of months and days. These can be found under the keywords “travel”, “city”, and #saymore in the Flashcard app Vocabulary Miner in 15 languages.
“It is so nice and caring when he sometimes remembers and says Good morning or Thank you in Czech. It sounds so cute,” Eri shares the power of a couple basic most useful words.
Michaela, inspired by her experience from a Czech- Italian relationship, made a special Word list called “Love & relationship” to help with expressing the feelings.
Listening is not enough
Active listening is a crucial part of a successful (not only) multilingual relationship. As Bárbora, living in a Czech-Italian household, highlights, listening needs a boost when language barriers arise: “At first we found ourselves in many neurotic situations. But usually, they were just misunderstandings because of language barriers. Once we figured that out, we started to watch each other while speaking and be really present for communication. When you see that your partner seems confused, explain more, or ask them what the problem is. It helps a lot.”