One of the great advantages of dating someone from a different country is that they are likely to speak a different language than you and thus, make a great teacher or at least an incentive to learn their native language. Even if your partner’s native language is completely different than yours, you are probably able to pick up a few words here and there! Here’s Jeongsu and my AMWF language learning journey.
English vs. Korean vs. German
Since we met in the United States, where we both attended the same university, English naturally became our go-to language. Also the fact that Jeongsu doesn’t speak German and I didn’t know any Korean at the time, English was the clear winner. However, I was always interested in learning new languages and another Asian language (besides Chinese) had been on my bucket list for a while. That’s why shortly after starting to date Jeongsu, I also started studying Korean.
We’ve both benefited from each other to learn and improve a foreign language. I’m very excited to make Korean equal to English in our future life together. Raising our future children bilingually will also add to that. German, on the other hand, will never be on of the languages we will communicate in – and that’s OK! It’s still nice to have a “secret language” to use to talk to friends and family! Jeongsu doesn’t need to know when I’m complaining about him to my mother, does he?
Tip: Take full advantage of your international relationship and learn your partner’s language! A foreign language is a great asset, so why not give it a try?
Overcoming Potential Problems
Since his English was pretty limited in the beginning of your relationship, he often times felt that he was unable to communicate how he felt. Especially when fighting, he wished he could just express his feelings in Korean to make clear what he wanted. As I was in an intercultural relationship with a Chinese guy before, I could understand Jeongu’s problem all too well and became patient when he struggled with words.
I strongly believe, however, that the language barrier doesn’t limit understanding. Mutual understanding goes to a much deeper level than language. Sometimes you just don’t need words to show a person how you feel about them! No matter what language you use to communicate, always be patient!
Tip: Always be patient with your foreign partner who struggles communicating. Mutual understanding goes hand in hand with patience!
Practice Makes Perfect
The good thing is that Jeongsu’s English has become a whole lot better and he is now able to communicate almost everything in English. I’m very proud of him! Another thing that comes with a lot of intercultural couples is that they pick up words of the partner’s language pretty fast. Jeongsu can say quite a few things in German and it’s great! He can tell my parents and great-parents “Hallo! Wie gehts? Ich bin Jeongsu.” (Hello, how are you? I’m Jeongsu.). He can also curse at me in German or tell me that he loves me and other basic conversational phrases. Isn’t it great?
When I first started with Korean, I picked up on words by listening to Jeongsu and his friends. Unfortunately, the words that mostly kept stuck in my head were also curse words! But hey, it’s Korean! Over a year of dating went by and I can now be proud of my beginner Korean level! Even though Jeongsu isn’t the best teacher in the world, he still is able to help me a lot and correct my Korean homework.
Tip: You can always do better and improve in your language journey together! Don’t be frustrated if you have a large language barrier, it will get smaller and smaller over time!
Having a Secret Language
Being an intercultural couple has a great advantage when it comes to language: You can create your own secret language! For us, it’s a mixture of Korean, German and English expressions all mixed into one and very hard to fully understand for outsiders! It’s a lot of fun leaving others in the dark and freely communiate about whatever you want without anyone understanding the true meaning behind it! It’s something that certainly creates a strong bond in our relationship and nobody can take away from us!
Tip: Creating your own secret language keeps it interesting, fun and intimate!
Where will the future take us?
The next exciting step is certainly to also integrate Korean in our daily life and use it just like we use English to communicate with each other. I’m eager to become fluent in Korean and master my new life in Korea. It will take some time but I’m optimistic! We already incorporate both Korean and English TV shows, movies and dramas into our daily life which makes it easy to practice spoken language.
For the future further away, our goal is certainly to have multilingual children. In order to do so, we both need to have a certain level of understanding of each other’s languages. I’m aiming to raise our future children in English, Korean and German as well.
The journey never ends
The language journey in a intercultural relationship, where both partners speak different native languages, never ends. If we are willing to compromise and learn, we can make our lives much more interesting and build stronger bonds with our partners by learning their foreign language. We don’t have to be perfect, but a few words or phrases can come in handy when meeting his family and gain sympathy poins!