Interacting with people from different cultures is one of my favorite things. But it’s also complex and sometimes confusing. These tools help.
This website is “a community-built resource for cross-cultural etiquette and understanding.” With information on every country in the world, all tips are written by natives or by people who have been residents of the countries. If you meet a new friend from another place, look up their home country here and gain valuable insights in just a few minutes.
Last week, a Spanish-speaking man delivered a used dryer to my house. There were problems (the dryer apparently worked at the store but not after the drive).
I had already transitioned our conversation to Spanish because I wanted to practice (see my embarrassing earlier post about all my angst about losing my Spanish and trying to keep it). But we were talking using technical vocabulary I had never learned about (dryer, timer, motor, tumbling, switch, etc…), so the man pulled out his phone and pulled up Google translate.
We both spoke into the phone and read the translations, and we were able to negotiate our next steps with ease. Maybe everyone already uses this and it’s very obvious, but it’s worth noting how helpful this tool is when you reach an impasse in communication with a speaker of another language!
I wish I had known about this basic but helpful tool when I was writing my Neighborhood English basic ESL curriculum. It is surprisingly hard to write about complex things in intentionally simple English! Copy and paste something that you’re writing (an email, a lesson…) to check if you are using only the 1,000 most common words in the English language–which is helpful when writing for people whose first language is not English.
For more on communicating in intentionally simple English:
What are your favorite tools for intercultural living?
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