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The language barrier

Third culture kids (TCKs) are often bilingual which can help them in many aspects of their lives

Do you speak two or more languages?

Some of our group didn’t learn a second language — some spoke up to four. Those who didn’t become fluent in their third-culture language usually learned some key phrases. Fluency has direct advantages.

Methee: “Yes, I have an easy time communicating with tourists and it's very useful to know several languages when you are travelling.”

Alma: “I speak four languages. When I lived in Europe, it was fantastic: travelling to different countries and being able to converse with the locals was great — it made me feel like a global citizen. I felt so privileged and lucky to have had the upbringing I did.”

Young girls playing on a tablet Young girls playing on a tablet

Kim: “I speak German and English fluently. It helped me find a job straight out of university. I sometimes speak English with German grammar rules which confuses my other half.”

Tom: “I’m not bilingual but I do have an affinity with languages. I used to speak decent French, I can just about read Arabic, and I learned Japanese Hiragana a while ago. I have always been interested in language, accents, pronunciation, and foreign scripts and alphabets. It hasn’t really affected my life. French and a bit of Spanish can be useful on holiday.”

Nina: “My first language is Spanish and I learned English from age 7. I was lucky: my school was very good. I've struggled with German throughout the years, as it's my heritage, but I don't speak it. I took French in school and university, but I'm not fluent.

“Being bilingual is great — especially with literature. There’s very little knowledge of Latin American literature in the UK yet I had to read every Shakespeare play at school in Central America (and loved it). It’s easy to appreciate the arrogance of the developed world when it comes to knowing about other cultures.”

Alexander: “I speak English, Italian and Spanish.”

Austeja: “It’s nice to be able to speak to people who speak English and Lithuanian.”

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