Not every place you visit will have English as the native language. It’s just a reality of travelling the world! You don’t need to be fluent in every language to travel without stress. However, it is important to find ways to deal with a language barrier when you travel. Before you decide against visiting a country because you can’t speak the language, keep the following in mind:
Know a Few Key Phrases
Okay, so you don’t have to know the language, necessarily…. but it is a good idea to know a few key phrases. That way, if you are ever in a bind, you can get help. Use a translation dictionary or look online to find the translations. Be sure to write them down and take that piece of paper with you everywhere you go. Some important phrases you may want to know are: where is the nearest restroom? How can I get a taxi? Where is the nearest police station? Focus on learning to say important phrases that may come in handy.
Try to Speak the Language…Even if You Can’t
Know those phrases you’ve learned? Use them. Even if you can’t really speak the language, it’s important to try. This shows that you are being respectful of the culture, rather than expecting local people to be able to speak English. Plus, the only way to improve your language skills is to actually give it a whirl!
Speak Slowly and Politely
Whether you are speaking in English or the local language, it’s important to speak slowly, enunciate, and always be polite. This will make it much easier for other people to understand what you’re trying to say. And by being polite, you give people a reason to actually care. When others do the same in kind, you’ll appreciate it even more.
Learn to Adapt to the Culture
Certain places have certain cultural expectations. If you want to ensure that you’re communicating effectively, then you’ll need to be aware of those expectations before you travel. Learning the customs of a place can make people more willing to help you. It shows that you put in the effort to try, rather than come to a country and expect that others will cater to you. Do your best to fit in and adapt to the culture. It will make a big difference in the way that people see you.
Technology is a beautiful thing. If you’re really struggling to find places to eat or the location of an attraction, your smart phone may be able to help. Instead of relying on directions given to you in another language, you can use your GPS or map. Or, if you are having issues understanding the language, there are apps available that can help you with translation. It’s faster and more convenient than flipping through a dictionary, that’s for sure!
Don’t be afraid to travel the world just because you can’t speak every language. You can still have a great vacation, despite the language barrier. All you need to do is plan ahead and do your best.