During your travels to various destinations, you face the problem of communicating with the locals. It’s a fairly common problem considering the fact that in many countries, English is not widely spoken beyond tourist hubs.
Imagine reading the instructions incorrectly on your train or bus ticket, and boarding the incorrect vehicle, or trying to find your way around and asking for directions, but not being able to understand the replies. You also face this problem while trying to communicate with taxi drivers, shopkeepers, and people on the street.
While it’s not possible to learn a new language in its entirety in a few days or weeks, you can pick up some common phrases and words to help you communicate while on vacation. Here’s how this helps:
You’re Better Equipped to Interact With the Locals
Traveling is not merely about sightseeing; it’s also about meeting and interacting with local people and understanding their way of life. Learning a little bit of the common language at your destination will help you feel more involved, and not confined to your travel group, or only able to speak to those who know your language.
You’ll Understand Local Culture Better
With a basic knowledge of the local language, it becomes easier for you to grasp a new culture. The commonly used expressions and idioms also give insight into the country’s historical background and the way of life of the native people. You can explore more, and discover areas you might not have visited otherwise without knowing the language.
Another advantage of having some knowledge of local language and culture is that you are much less likely to commit cultural faux pas. With the knowledge of the local language comes some idea of what is considered inappropriate or improper as per local customs and traditions.
You’ll Be More Confident Finding Your Way Around
Asking for directions becomes a complicated affair if the local people don’t speak the same language as you. Your GPS might not work satisfactorily everywhere, and this can land you in a predicament. However, with even rudimentary knowledge of the local language, you will find yourself in a better position.
You can order exotic foods without waiting to get the name translated into English, and you can avoid getting overcharged by cab drivers. You can also negotiate better deals for yourself in hotels and markets. Getting on and off at the right bus station becomes so much easier when you don’t have to depend on your native language to make yourself understood. However, make sure you have travel insurance so any travel mishaps you do encounter don’t result in a big financial loss.
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You’ll Inspire Trust
Connecting with locals becomes so much easier when you can speak even a little bit of the local language. They will feel closer to you, and will appreciate your basic skills. They might also proactively guide you towards must-see places off of the beaten path, and help you negotiate with local tourist service providers in order to secure better rates.
Even if your knowledge of the local language is basic, the local people will appreciate it a lot. Most will go out of their way to help you, including buying you a drink or two, or even some food as well. Your effort at speaking their language helps them understand that you are trying to immerse yourself in their culture, and are not simply a tourist.
Your Itinerary Will Be More Colorful
English is spoken in many non-English speaking countries by tour guides, but usually only in heavily visited areas. With some knowledge of the local lingo, you won’t need to stick to the usual “touristy” areas. You can include places most tourists never think to visit. You will begin to feel more confident in your ability to travel through different areas due to your knowledge of the local language.
You’ll Make New Friends
The small grocery shop owner, the local who sits beside you on the train or bus, or the person sitting in the park – all of them can become great companions on your trip and can add value to your travel experience. However, not all of them can speak English. So, even your rudimentary knowledge of the local language can open up doors to new experiences.
You Can Avoid Stereotyping
Many uninformed ideas you may have about certain nationalities can be corrected when you have the ability to communicate with local residents. This can only happen when you speak their language.
You’ll Grow as a Person
Learning a new language not only improves your trip, but also your brain. It expands your retention capability, helps you to become more creative, and makes you more of a problem-solver. This, in turn, enhances your self-confidence. Even from a professional point of view, knowledge of multiple languages can be a great enhancement to your resume.
There’s much to gain by learning some of the local language before your next trip. By putting in a little effort now, you can reap big rewards and have an enriching travel experience.
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