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The Brain on Multilingualism

This is the brain on multilingualism. We try to keep all our languages going, and the more we practice, the more they wrestle for space. The eternal question: how can we keep our languages in good shape while welcoming new ones? Should we just sit back and enjoy the learning process, while being cognizant of our neuroplasticity?

This lovely illustration is available as print, sticker and further stationery on the Expat Gone Foreign Store! ✨

Understanding Locals

If you have had trouble understanding locals lately, fear not. Your language skills have not vanished overnight. Rather, the communication challenge switched to a whole different level of difficulty.Expat Gone Foreign, Language comics, linguistics, non-verbal communication, proxemics, kineticsDeciphering messages in any (foreign) language is a complex task on its own. Not only do you need to hear the message loud and clear, but also share the linguistic code of the speaker. Furthermore, the visual cues convey as much meaning as the audible information. In fact, words only account for 35% of the meaning in a conversation 1.

If you prefer face-to-face communication over phone calls, there’s a perfectly good reason: non-verbal cues are absent over the phone. You might hear the words, but the absence of gestures, facial expressions and eye contact might leave you at a loss.

In the current situation, most of these non-verbal cues are gone. In addition, speakers are often too far away to be heard, and face masks act like a barrier that muffles sound. Remember those times at the dentist when you can’t understand a word they are saying? As if speaking a foreign language weren’t difficult enough under normal circumstances.

Long story short: if you are a bit rattled, don’t doubt your skills. They are still there, you are just playing this round of the game in pandemic mode.

Spanish-Italian False Friends

A few months ago I started learning Italian. Why not? Learning a language that is so close to your own has a ton of perks. It can also be a recipe for fun misunderstandings, so here’s an illustrated collection of Spanish-Italian false friends.

These false friends have the exact same written form in both languages, but different meanings in Spanish (left column) and Italian (right column). The last one is definitely my favorite!

Expat Gone Foreign, language comics, foreign language learning, Spanish Italian False Friends, español, italiano, falsos amigos

Do you know other false friends? Leave me a comment!

#ilmioviaggiolinguistico