The Language Barrier

One of the big positives of going to school in England is that I wouldn't have to worry about speaking another language in order to complete my assignments and understand what's going on in lectures. And for the most part, that's proven to be true. But I've found that there is a bit of a language barrier due to the huge number of international students.

If you come from a non-English speaking country, such as China, you are required to take an English proficiency exam in order to prove that you can speak English well enough to complete your studies. But I've found that even with those exams, a lot of the non-English speakers have some trouble understanding me. Especially the ones that have never really studied or traveled outside of their own country.

And what I've found interesting about that is that I'm forced to really think about what I'm saying in order to make it easier for everyone to understand. That and I end up explaining what different words mean - which has actually proved to be kind of difficult for me in some cases. Like, try and explain what "awkward" means to someone who doesn't speak English! And for anyone who really knows me, you know that "awkward" is a pretty prominent word in my vocabulary!

The most surprising language barrier that I've come across is not actually with non-English speakers, but with the English themselves! There's a whole 'nother set of terminology that they use to name things! And in a lot of cases, such as with chips and crisps, it gets kind of confusing sometimes when I'm shopping or out to eat.

So here is a short list of some of the vocab that I've collected so far. American English on the left, UK English on the right.

Chips = Crisps
Fries = Chips
Soccer = Football
Football = American Football (But no one knows anything about football here!)
Elevator = Lift
Mailbox (like one in the wall with a lock) = Pigeon Hole
Line (like you wait in) = Queue
Mail = Post
Movie = Film
Movie Theater = Cinemas
Reduced-fat Milk (like 1% or 2%) = Semi-skimmed Milk
Baking Soda = Sodium Bicarbonate
Marinara Sauce = Bolognese
Carbonated = Sparkling (they don't say Coke is carbonated on the bottle, it says sparkling)
Plain Potato Chips = Ready Salted Crisps
Professors = Tutors
Concert = Gig
Subway = Tube
Restrooms = Toilets (toilets to me is just a little too blunt... haha)
Checking Account (at a bank) = Current Account
Apartment = Flat

So as you can see, I've got some vocab to learn! And I'm sure there's plenty more, but those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I'm sure this list will grow as my adventures continue.