English is the official language in Malawi and people are warm and friendly to visitors. For this reason many people fail to engage with Malawians in their own language or according to social norms in Malawi. The culture in Malawi is 'relational' and the language is a great indicator of that. A little knowledge of the language and how society works goes a very long way in Malawi.
Many Malawians are keen to learn about and engage with 'western cultural norms' and so for those reasons are usually reluctant to correct cultural mistakes that visitors may make. The problem with this is that a visitor can seem somewhat 'other' or even rude. While Malawians understand that no offence is intended, over time differences in approach can begin to stretch the patience and endurance of those Malawians you are engaging with. Often, little problems can build slowly over time only to explode unexpectedly.
We can help you start off well and build good relationships over time with our language, culture and translation services.
A little knowledge of the local language goes a lot further in Malawi than in most other countries. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, greetings are disproportionally important in Malawi compared to elsewhere. When you know how to greet people you will transform first impressions and you will find yourself on a much stronger footing than most expats. Secondly, Malawians have exceptionally low expectations regarding what outsiders can say and understand in their language.
We can take you from an introduction to the languages through to advanced studies. You can join a scheduled class or tailor the tuition according to your own requirements and interests. Group classes, one-on-one lessons, learning through music, intensive courses, Chichewa for specific purposes (e.g. medical work, church) and combining language with culture can all be arranged. We also can provide lessons in other local languages.
We can provide translators for most scenarios, locations and languages. Contact us well in advance with your plans.
People from the same culture and speaking the same language can fall out over misunderstandings. How much more is this the case with people from very different backgrounds with different experiences of life and different beliefs – not to mention language and culture barriers? Sometimes the right person with the right presence and personality can overcome these misunderstandings. We have the right people if you find yourself in need of mediation.