Essay 39 – Living in a country where you have to speak a foreign language

GT Writing Task 2 (Essay Writing) Sample # 39

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Living in a country where you have to speak a foreign language can cause serious social problems, as well as practical problems.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.


Model Answer 1: [Agree]

The language barrier is one of the biggest social, professional and practical challenges for people who live in a foreign country and this is sometimes so severe that many people find it hard to fit in and manage a job. This can lead to frustrations and sometimes affect the well-being of such people and there is no denying that people living abroad without knowing the language are the worst sufferers.

To begin with, migrants who do not speak or understand the native language fail to understand the local custom and culture which leads to social problems. They hardly talk to local people and have little idea about the cultural diversity of the country. As a result, they even fail to realise the rules and regulations and how people feel in certain circumstances. The influx of immigrants in many European countries, for example, cause social problems because the newly arrived immigrants do not speak the language. In many cases, the language barrier provokes misconceptions, social crises, discriminatory practices and many times violent reactions and racism. In turn, the migrants develop an antipathy towards other residents and local people and segregate themselves from others.

Moreover, not knowing the local language makes it harder for immigrants to find a direction, read important notices, order food from a menu, talk to a local citizen for help and most importantly manage a job. It is quite natural than an employer would prefer someone who can communicate with people of the country and language barrier, according to many immigrants, is the leading cause they remain unemployed. Not knowing the language, therefore, causes many practical problems which are unavoidable.

To conclude, before migrating to a country, people should make their best effort to learn the language most people in this country talk and understand to avoid cruel social unrest and practical problems.


Model Answer 2: [Disagree]

We use a language to communicate with others and express ourselves no matter what language we use and thus after migrating to a foreign country people often find the language barrier a challenge. However, with the help of technology and little effort from migrants and locals, the language barrier is no longer a serious problem in this modern era.

To begin with, the practice of shifting to a different country for the job, education, business or living is a century-old trend and common among all classes of people throughout the world. Thus the citizens of the host country are already aware that many migrants would be unable to communicate effectively and they cordially welcome the language and cultural differences. As a prevalent example, my uncle lived in Thailand for more than 20 years and had a poor command over the local language. He once mentioned that not knowing the language had not created any social or cultural problem to him and most locals were very positive about foreigners’ efforts to speak “Thai” and in dealing with non-native speakers’ efforts. Thus the small effort by the locals and the migrants have created a much positive environment in many countries.

Moreover, technology has alleviated the practical problems of the language barrier to a great extent. People use “Goole Maps”, for example, to find a location rather than asking locals about the direction and the “Translator” applications can very effectively translate between languages. Doing grocery or ordering food from a menu written in a foreign language is no longer an issue and thanks to technological advancement. I believe that not knowing the local language has some practical challenges but none of them is so serious.

In conclusion, I approve the notion that living in another country and not knowing the local language is sometimes troublesome, but they are often scanty and can be taken care of by the efforts of the locals and migrants and the use of technology.

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