Language & culture barriers

Updated April 17, 2017

Effective communication of ideas and thoughts become difficult if language and cultural barriers exist, as these barriers are hurdles against proper and effective communication among individuals or groups. The reason behind these differences is the nativity, education, religion and language that the person is used to and its correlation with other languages and cultures. These barriers can lead to misunderstandings among people and lead to a breakdown or failure of the communication process.


Cultural and language barriers are on the rise in American organisations due to the increase in the number of foreign-born workers becoming part of the workforce. Though all foreign-born workers are permitted into America for jobs after assessment of their proficiency in English, it is the difference in accents which at times makes it difficult for both the native and foreigner to coexist. While most foreign-born people overcome this challenge, some of them still lag behind due to their underexposure to American culture and living styles. These cultural and language barriers often result in attitudinal barriers, complications in the workplace, biases and stereotyping by coworkers and can lead to a decline in the recruitment of immigrant workers.

Routine Communication

Communication among people belonging to different cultures and languages is challenging. Within their culture, people get attuned to a particular way of thinking, seeing, hearing and interpreting things around them; this can result in the same words or sentences being interpreted in a variety of ways. With translations, the chances of misunderstandings sometimes increases, as no language can perfectly translate another while keeping the essence of the original words intact.

International Cooperation

The existing language and cultural barriers in international markets prove to be hurdles for new relationships in business. Using a common language, people can discuss and research various complex topics -- such as management strategies -- with ease, but with cultural barriers there can be a lack of the trust imperative for any relationship to proceed. The inability of people to talk in a common language can also prove to be a hurdle for making potential profits from international collaborations. Translations do work, but not always perfectly, as the essence of the original conversation is not always upheld after the translation. Many international negotiations happen virtually where language is the only available medium and non-verbal signals or gestures are not possible.

Educational Institutes

Foreign students coming to America for their education face cultural and language barriers too. First of all, they are sometimes unable to cope with cultural differences and then come the language problems. Students coming from the United Kingdom, Australia and other native English-speaking countries do not have this problem. However, students coming from Asian and African countries face these hurdles. Most of the students go through a cultural shock and take some time to get accustomed when they enter American educational institutions. American-accented English becomes another problem, as most non-native speakers are not used to it and find it difficult to comprehend lectures and discussions in class. This has a negative impact on their grades as a result.

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About the Author

Steve Jonathan started professional writing in 1989. He has more than two decades of copywriting experience and has worked with publishing houses such as Penguin Group and HarperCollins. Jonathan received a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism from the University of Leeds and a Master of Arts in creative writing from City University London.