Any tips for communicating with guests when we dont share a language?

Hi all
I have a guest arriving for a stay of several weeks. She is from China and speaks no english …I speak no chinese.
I was a little misled during the vetting process as the guest had someone translating for her but didnt let on until I had accepted the booking. However I’m prepared to make the best of it and just wondered if anyone had any tips for communicating when we dont share a language…

Google Translate is your friend!

I adopted a boy from China when he was 12, just 3 years ago. We relied on it heavily.

There are other more sophisticated aps, and things you can have on your phone, but that’s what we used and it worked.

Get a dvd or other media from the library to learn a few words, or find a resource online.

Have fun! I hope she cooks you a bit of authentic Chinese food! (Though I can hear many of hosts reading this saying “DON’T LET HER COOK!!!”)

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We have been host parents for an exchange student from Thailand. She spoke english very poorly, and did actually not understand a word of what we sad. But thanks to Google translate, Google picture search and showing her how things have to been done, things worked out well.

Fot the airbnb-guest: I think I would make a manual, by using pictures and pictograms and a few chinese words (Google translate). I would also do this for the house roules.

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Just went through a no-english situation for two weeks. Wouldn’t repeat it. A couple of days, okay, but two weeks we could never figure out how to make them happy. Google Translate helped, but there was no spontaneity of communication.

Hi Tea!

Smile, sign language, pictures, translator :smile:

I have hosted international students for 23 years, most of them didn’t speak much or any english, with facial expressions, pointing out things and looking at pictures it all was fine …
Maybe learn a few phrases, like “welcome” or “good morning”

Most of all I recommend to you… have fun and enjoy the experience … you never know, maybe a long standing friendship is in the making :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


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I often have international guests who speak little english.
Send daily messages through AirBnB. That way they can translate it on their own time, and then write/translate a response back to you. I also think that guests may be less likely to ask you for help/fix something, because the language barrier makes it awkward. So asking them through a text-based medium should help them ask for assistance.

I think using Google translate in a live conversation is a bit annoying.

G-Host, It IS annoying using google translate for a live conversation, but sometimes it was all I had when communicating with my son.

You want to talk about annoying? When I thought my son, who I hardly knew at all (he was 12 and newly adopted) was telling he that he was an extraterrestrial, and only had google translate to help me with the conversation. And I couldn’t abbreviate it to “ET”. I had to type out extra-terr-es-trial each time. Well, he wasn’t saying he WAS one, so then I thought he was telling me he had one in his brain…no,that wasn’t it…he had one talking to him…no, that wasn’t it…he was really curious about them and thinking about them. OH!!! Dang I could have broken out a bottle of bubbly I was so relieved!!! I was acting very cool on the outside, but on the inside I was FREEEEEAKING OUT!!! Ha ha the adventures!!

In the end it saved our sanity. Sadly he had not taken the time to learn pinyin (@#$)#) when in China so it had limited use in him talking to us.