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Communicating in a foreign country...

Updated: Jun 19, 2023


I’m going to tell a story. I lived in Switzerland for a year playing professional volleyball. I lived in the French region and did not speak one word of French. Although my goal was to learn French so I could connect and communicate with those around me, that was going to take time.


So, what did I do in the meantime? I relied heavily on my gestures, facial expressions, and Google translate. Did I start with textbook French and learn proper grammar?

No! I started with what was functional for me – Volleyball words, asking for directions, ordering food, my shoe size, asking for layers in my haircut (that was a fail).

Imagine you lived in a foreign country and didn’t speak the language. How would you communicate?


Keep my story in mind when communicating with people who have speech and language differences!

All communication styles are valid. All behaviors are communicating something. And then ask – what is the most functional for this person in this stage of their life?

For more insight on other ways to communicate, check out this handout on AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). Download your handout here!

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