You’re excited. You’re about to start a new job which will take your career into a completely different direction. Not just your career, but your current lifestyle as it happens, as you have to relocate abroad for the privilege of this new employment opportunity. That’s ok though, as you already speak the language and will soon make friends. The kids are already enrolled in a school and they´ll no doubt start making friends as soon as they land. But what about your mum? She’s moving with you as you’re worried about her staying behind on her own; she doesn’t want to be so far away from you and she wants to spend time with her grandkids. Learning a new language at her age though won’t be so easy and, being retired, she doesn’t have the advantage that you do of meeting people so easily.

This is a common worry for the older generation which is often overlooked by others, assuming they´ll be fine and will ‘get by’. Being away from everything familiar to them and with no comprehension of what’s going on around them due to a different language can leave people feeling isolated and lonely.

Learning through Lyrics

This is exactly the problem that’s being overcome by a Russian singing group in the US. Formed by a trained musician who teaches English as a second language, the elderly Russian immigrants meet once a week and sing show tunes, patriotic songs and Frank Sinatra hits in English. For just one hour a week, they get together for the chance to make new friends, learn some English and have lots of fun. This creative way of learning English – which consists of singing along to a DVD of 60 songs with on-screen lyrics, lyric sheets and a piano accompaniment – also helps them to bridge the gap with the younger generation who have undoubtedly progressed with the language in leaps in bounds.

As new friendships are formed and the language gap with others is reduced, for these Russian immigrants at least, they can finally feel that they have found a home away from home. What challenges have you faced with regard to a language barrier and how did you overcome them?