Being a programmer with language barriers

Last week I came across a post about programming and language barrier. After reading the post, I did some thinking on what hurdles I faced when I started off in this field. To be honest my hands on coding work started during my coursework of MS. I had just completed my undergraduate engineering coursework and had no work experience. I had done my schooling in a native Indian language and my knowledge of English was limited to few TV shows, talk shows, and some other GRE/TOEFL words that I could remember.

So, as one can expect times were tough for me when I came to a foreign country and tried to learn three graduate level courses in the first semester. I remember in the very first lecture of Software Modeling, I kept on hearing this word, that sounded like ‘maajul’ throughout the lecture, I had never heard this word before and I could not focus on anything else. So, as soon as the lecture finished I hurriedly ran few searches on Google. After some digging I came to know the word was ‘module’ and the professor was teaching us about Single Responsibility Principle. It might sound trivial but there are numerous instances when I had to google a word while coding in order to understand the concept properly.

I have come a long way since those initial days and my knowledge of english has improved a lot in last six years. I have started expressing my thoughts and communicating the ideas. However, I do feel language barrier can hold some of us back from fully exploring the brave new world of programming. Not having enough vocabulary may make us feel that we are not profound or witty. But we should still communicate our thoughts and ideas in the best way we can. This is true for blogging as well, we should keep expressing our thoughts through blogs. The good thing about writing blogpost is that, we can proofread and make amendments after each draft until we convey our point to the best of our ability.

I strongly feel that we should make it a habit of reading technical articles (no just prescribed textbooks) so that we get familiar with the jargons in the field. Especially the acronyms as we come across lot of them. Regarding having multi language support in IDEs like Visual Studio I am not totally up for it. I think it makes sense to have a common language across the world to express ourselves in code. Certainly it can be difficult if it is not our native language, but each of us should try and familiarize ourselves to the language as much as possible.

More importantly we should never hold back from communicating only because of lack of vocabulary. Luckily, in the present corporate environment, teams are spread across the globe which give us a natural opportunity to collaborate with people from all kinds of backgrounds and languages. Teams are getting better at working together and understanding cultural differences. Unfortunately, the young and bright students studying in the remotest regions of some countries do not know this reality. It is therefore highly valuable that we communicate the options they have and how they should not refrain from pursuing their dreams just because they cannot speak or write the finest english.

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