Language isn’t A Barrier (1d)

-How to Fit in When You Don’t Understand the Language

I’m in a room, packed with 27 Koreans and a Taiwanese.

“Annyeong haseyo, bangapsumnida! Jeu, silrejiman meutsalesheyo?”

(Hi, nice to meet you! How old are you?)

“Eotteohke jinaeseyo?”

(How are you doing?)


(I’m fine.)

A bunch of Korean words fly into my ears. I wonder, “Am I in Korea?” I SO understand every single word.


I studied in an International school in Hong Kong. I only understand English, Cantonese, and Mandarin. Korean? NO. All that I know are the bad words, and how to say hi.

            The 27 Koreans, plus the Taiwanese know that I don’t speak Korean, but some of them like to speak Korean with me, or they add in a few Korean words into the conversation.


What do I do when I am the minority in the Group?

The Taiwanese girl and I are the only NON KOREAN in the group. 2 VS. 27. Obviously, we can’t take over the group. In the beginning, I didn’t know what to do. So I stood aside with the Taiwanese girl, and start our own English/ Chinese conversation. These lasted for a few weeks. Later, I found MY SOLUTION to become absorbed into their society, and culture.

Strategy 1: SMILE

smiley face

No matter what languages you hear from your friends, PUT A SMILE ON YOUR FACE! It doesn’t matter whether you understand or not. SIMLE! Curve your lips, turn the corners of your mouth upward, and show your teeth! Look into their eyes, and smile. Look into the mirror and see how lovely, friendly, and approachable you are now!

Now go melt their hearts with your smile!

Strategy 2: NOD YOUR HEAD

(Just like her!)

Smile + Nodding Your Head = I agree with you

Smile + Nodding Your Head = I respect everything you said

Smile + Nodding Your Head = I appreciate you

You can’t go wrong when you put on a smile, and nod your head.


Learning how to say “hi”, “how’re you”, “nice to meet you” aren’t good enough to impress anyone, or make any great impression. These are too common, too weak. You need to be outstanding! You need to be unique! You need to talk as sweet as the honeybee. Make yourself adorable. How about call them, “Pretty”, “Handsome”, “Cutie”, or “Lovely”. I wouldn’t say this is being flirty, but it shows how much you appreciate, and love them. BUT! You need to know when to say it, and don’t over use it. People might find it irritating. Be creative, and courageous! Come up with terms that are not overly used, terms that show your attitudes.


Recently, I made a Korean boyfriend. I always use these strategies when I meet with his friends and family. A month ago, I went to a dinner gathering with my boyfriend and his Korean friends. It was my first time meeting his friends. I arrived there with a smile on my face, and I said “Annyeong haseyo” (hi) to them. The entire night, I sat there with a big smile on my face. I laughed as they laughed, I ate as they ate, I drank as they drank. The next day, my boyfriend told me that his friends thought that I’m a Korean. They thought that I understood their conversation and interacted with them very well. I laughed!


What’re your strategies? Comment and share!





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