By: George J. Newton
How Does Your Writing Create A Language Barrier?
“In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those people understand their own language.”―
Twain’s quote addresses one of the fundamental problems with language. We think we’re speaking and writing succinctly, yet our readers are left scratching their heads, confused.
When writing, you are thinking about so many things. You’re hoping that you’re getting your point across correctly and that your readers will get what they need from your post. However, do you ever consider how easy it is to read your work when you’re writing?
You could unintentionally put barriers in place that make it harder to understand what you want to convey in the post. When you do this, you’ll be turning valuable readers away. Here’s how a language barrier can be costing you readers and what you can do to minimize this.
Jargons and Second Languages Create the Barriers, Too
Language barriers happen all the time, without the writer intentionally creating a problem. For example, if you’re writing for an academic paper, then it’s so easy to start using jargon. If someone else in your field reads the post, they know what you mean and don’t need a thesaurus to understand the technical words. If they’re not familiar with the terminology and phrases, it will be much harder to read through.
‘Using jargon slows the reader down, as they won’t understand a word or phrase,’ says journalist Jennifer Mann from Academic Brits. ‘They’ll have to parse out what you mean or look it up. Only the most dedicated are going to do that, while others will give up.’
You’ll also need to consider the literal language barrier, as well. If someone’s first language isn’t English, that will make things harder for them as they read your writing. Even someone fluent in English as a second language will have trouble if you’re using idioms and similar expressions. 60% of the international students accepted into American Universities had difficulty in reading and writing in a language different then their own. It makes it more challenging to understand the core point of your writing, so you could quickly start losing readers.
The Importance Of Clear Writing
Why should you worry about the language barrier when it comes to writing? As long as you reach your core audience, it should be fine. If you’re writing for a very small audience, then yes, perhaps. But in most cases, you’re looking to reach a wider group. You want them all to get the right message from your writing, and so you need to take care with what you write.
For example, consider the non-English speaking and EAL communities in the US during the COVID 19 pandemic. When the outbreak happened, many found it difficult to get reliable information about what was happening. That meant they had to go to less reliable sources to get what they needed.
It would be best if you made your writing as clear as it can be. That way, your audience should encounter fewer barriers and take away all the key points.
How To Overcome The Language Barrier
How do you ensure your writing is as clear as can be? There are a few things you can do to open up your writing and remove that barrier. Here are some ideas to improve your writing and remove the language barriers:
1.Cut out the jargon
This is possibly the most crucial step you can take. When you use jargon, you’re making your writing exclusive and cutting others out of the picture. Remove jargon wherever you can to make your writing more accessible.
It’s more important than you’d think, as it can make your writing dull as well as hard to understand. Even the most exciting topics are boring if there’s too much jargon, so keep this in mind as you write.
2. Have your audience in mind
When writing, you need to know who your audience is. Who are the people who you want to read your work? How will you make them understand what you have to say?
Many find success with having a specific person in mind as they write. For example, if you’re writing an academic piece that you want to be accessible to the general public, think about the people you know and who would enjoy it. For example, would your sister get a lot out of this? Write to her, and you’ll see more success.
3. Make your sentences shorter
Did you know that the longer your sentences are, the less your readers take in? A sentence with less than 14 words will help readers take in 90% of what you say. A 43-word sentence drops that down to just 10%. Keep those sentences short and snappy, and readers can take in more.
4. Avoid acronyms
When you use acronyms, this is another way that readers will feel as though you’ve excluded them. It makes the post difficult to understand, so you need to reduce them as much as possible.
There will be some times you have to reference them but do so sparingly. For example, if you’re talking about the British Psychological Society, you may explain the acronym BPS first. Later on, you can refer to them as ‘the society’ to keep reading easier.
5. Use an active voice
The passive voice is overused in writing, especially academic writing. It makes it harder to understand what you’re saying, so you should aim to use the active voice instead.
For example, you can write ‘We conducted a study’ rather than ‘a study was conducted.’ It shows the reader who did it, making it easier to understand and follow.
6. Check your readability score
Did you know you can check the readability of your work online? There are lots of tools you can use that give you a readability score within moments. You can use these to see where you need to make improvements in your writing.
Search online for readability tools, and then paste your writing into them. You’ll get a readability score and a rough estimate of what groups can easily understand your work. They’re highly useful tools, so put them to good use.
There are many ways you can remove the language barrier from your writing and make it much easier for others to understand what you’re offering. Use these tips to improve your writing and make it accessible to everyone who needs to read it.
Bio: George J. Newton
George J. Newton is a writer for Thesis writing service. As a business development manager, he oversees the business practices of various companies. As a content writer, he writes articles about marketing, social media trends, and SEO practices.
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