Language Barriers at the Hair Salon




Today I went to a hair salon because I desperately needed a hair trim; it’s been almost a year since I have gotten a haircut so, I decided to go to a salon near my dorm. Now, Prague is divided up into districts, the district that everyone is more familiar with is Prague 1, this is where the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, and the rest of those well-known landmarks are. I live in Prague 10 and that’s an area where most of the locals live. I have noticed that there are less English speakers in this area.

I walk in asking for a haircut hoping that they speak English because my Czech is not that advanced yet. They don’t speak English so I can’t understand most of what they’re saying. The only thing I can understand is how much it costs and what time my appointment is because I’m very familiar with the numbers.

Before I come in for my appointment, I tried to check on google translate to see how I can ask for long layers but it didn’t make any sense. So, if the stylist didn’t understand me, I found pictures of the haircut that I wanted

I came back to the salon and I didn’t understand a word. However, I was able to tell where she was wanting me to go by seeing her hands motion to the sink. After she finished washing my hair, it was time to get my hair cut, we went to a different room and my hair was dripping wet so I couldn’t get up to grab my phone to show her pictures. I tried to explain in my very limited Czech that I wanted layers. She looked unsure but I tried to show her how my hair was already cut in layers so I just needed to trim. She did a few hand motions towards my hair while talking and I think she understood. I suddenly got very worried so I closed my eyes throughout the whole thing. I always tend to get nervous when it comes to my hair, even more, when there’s a language barrier. I finally opened my eyes when she stopped cutting.

When it was all over, I looked in the mirror and I was so happy that she cut my hair just like I wanted it. She did an amazing job and I believe she asked me what I thought of my cut. I responded by saying, “Výborně!” (great)

Even though we didn’t speak the same language, we were able to get through it with hand movements and body language. I was able to put my limited Czech to the test and really work on my listening skills. It was a little scary at the time but looking back on it, it wasn’t so bad. I was glad that we were able to understand each other. It just goes to show that with a little patience, we don’t need to have a shared language to be able to communicate with each other.