MBA Luxury Brand Management

MBA Luxury Brand Management
Class of 2016-2017

Monday, March 3, 2014

Language Barriers

By Emily Albright, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2013-2014, American

If there’s one aspect of moving your life to a foreign city that probably everyone can agree is the most daunting, it would have to be the dreaded language barrier. On top of the expected stresses of relocating one’s life, saying buh-bye to your friends and family for a bit, and the endless fun of securing one’s visa, not being able to order a coffee without fear of embarrassment or confusion is the last thing one wants to be faced with. Unfortunately, this is just a fact of life when moving abroad, and unless you’re lucky to be moving to the country whose language you studied even a little in school, you really will be starting from square one.

Having said that, with very recent experiences in this department, this blogger is particularly well qualified to dispatch a little helpful advice to help you cope with the transition. It all can be boiled down to this: Get a head start.

At least two months before your departure, take a little time each day, and I mean each and every day, and go through some language exercises. There are plenty of language websites and apps for beginners. One in particular that I have found really helpful is Their website and app work the same way. Sign up (it’s free), and get going. You’ll start with the very basics and move through their various levels and categories. Don’t miss a day with this. Even if you take five minutes one day, it’s better than nothing.

Also encouraged while you are still living in the homeland is podcasts. As in, on your way to or from work, have some language lesson podcasts downloaded to listen to on your mobile device. I recommend checking out Coffee Break French.

Lastly, watch French videos or movies on YouTube, preferably those with English subtitles. It always helps to hear natural French speakers converse. Those ears won’t train themselves.

Having said all of this, my last word of advice in terms of getting a head start on learning the language before you leave is not to rely on just one of the above methods. Use them all to supplement one another. The more you speak, read and listen to the language, the better off you will be. And again, don’t skip a day.

Of course, no method for learning a language compares to immersion, or, “living the language,” as they say. It’s daunting, but you just have to jump right in and do it. You will learn out of necessity. If you have time, find a conversation group to attend now and again, and continue the steps laid out above in your free time, especially if you go through a day without having to speak.

Be fearless! Be patient! Au revoir et bonne chance, mes amis!