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How To Avoid Getting Lost In Translation

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Have you ever tried to have an important conversation with someone but felt like they just didn't understand you? Then you might know the frustration experienced by many of Canada's 4.7 million immigrants who don't speak English or French as a first language, and for whom being misunderstood can be a daily occurrence.

Whether it's a friendly conversation with a neighbour or something more serious -- like discussing your finances -- knowing you've been heard can make the difference between feeling accepted, or alienated.

It's only natural that someone will gravitate to and seek out others who speak their language for not only for ease of communication but also for a sense of comfort and security. Communication of any kind, but especially giving -- and getting -- quality financial advice requires clarity and understanding. The truth is, you and your financial matters are too important to be misunderstood. Follow these three tips below to help ensure you, your friend or family members are properly heard.

Come prepared: If it's your first time meeting with the bank bring two pieces of identification as well as any background documents that you feel are relevant to your banking needs. Check out these additional tips for setting up banking in Canada to help you prepare in advance of your meeting.

Ask for translation: If you are more comfortable speaking about sensitive information in your first language, ask for a translator. Many financial institutions are equipped to talk to you in your language in person at the branch or provide information to you over the phone. If it happens that there is not someone available onsite, then you can leverage today's technology such as video chat or conference call. If there is something that you don't understand, don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions. It's better that you get the information and reassurance you need, rather than worry something isn't right.

Take advantage of different information sources: Brochures and online resources are often available in your language. These can be valuable resources to inform you of your banking options, many which are specially designed for newcomers. The best advice is to visit a branch and speak to an expert to ensure that solutions provided meet your unique needs. The more you learn, the more comfortable you will be as you settle in your new home.

Providing newcomers with the abilities and tools to have banking conversations in their preferred language is critical to developing their financial literacy in Canada. One example of such tools is RBC's recently launched Language Line app which allows for a two-way 'video chat' between you, the banker and a professional interpreter so that you can communicate confidently in your preferred language.

If you are a non-English speaking immigrant to Canada or have family in this category, what did you feel helped you to communicate better? Share your tips below in the comments or on twitter @RBC_Canada