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midweek Connect: 6/9/21 ~ You were saying...

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

Greetings and Happy Midweek! I hope your week is going along smoothly.

Last week we started a series of reflections on language specifics using our cross-cultural lens. This is something we do frequently in our Global SKILLs training especially as we seek to better understand our Host communities and cultures. Today we’ll focus in on contexts where we are challenged by understanding what’s being said.

I’m sure we all encounter interesting, sometimes frustrating, sometimes fascinating variations on the ways things are said in the languages which fill our spaces - those in which we are fluent and those we are learning. Whether the speaker has an unfamiliar accent, or the language(s) involved are ones in which we are not completely fluent, our responses to cross-linguistic/cross-cultural experiences can either be to engage or to turn off - it’s our choice.

I ran into an extreme variation of this on a news-feed last evening, which inspired today’s thoughts. There was a headline in English, I opened the video link, and much to my surprise - the whole report was in a different language, probably Spanish or Portuguese...neither of which I speak well enough to have followed what was being said! The striking thing was being unexpectedly immersed in something which I totally did not understand, when I expected English based on the headline!

Instead of just switching it off, I decided to listen and enjoy the moment - and yes, it was fun! I definitely got something from the body language. The individual speaking was animated and increasingly agitated - clearly passionate about his topic. The individual listening looked perhaps like he had heard it all before and wasn’t responding much.

My other take-away was that, especially for those of us who teach or walk alongside language and culture learners, it’s not a bad thing to be immersed in moments like these, reminding ourselves what that ‘feels’ like - to be present but not to understand. I like choosing to engage anyway...never know what I’ll learn!

How about you ~ think of a recent moment where you didn’t understand what was being said - how did you respond...and how might you have responded differently if you chose to engage?

Share about that with a friend or note it here.

And check out Global SKILLs LINKs below for some fun tips on engaging more in conversations and improving your take-away, even if you didn’t understand!

Until next week,



Practical tips from a modern tourist on how to engage when understanding isn’t necessarily present:

And we can always learn more about body language:

2021 ~ Celebrating 40 years of working in

intercultural communications and global community building

Connecting, Collaborating, Cultivating Community

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