For many, the idea of facing language barriers abroad can bring an incredibly daunting aspect to travel, particularly if you speak a grand total of zero of the country you’re visiting’s local language. Others don’t even think about potential language barriers (hands up if you’re guilty of assuming everywhere speaks English!) and when they do happen to stumble across a less touristy area, are confronted with unexpected language discrepancies which catch them off-guard.
Even if you studied a language for multiple years in school, if you haven’t practiced it and used the language regularly, chances are you’ve probably forgotten most of what you learnt! And to be fair, the typical rapid-fire French or Italian conversation may leave you in the dust even if you do remember. Don’t fret however, for language barriers are not the be all and end all, and certainly shouldn’t put anybody off experiencing the enchantment of travel. Keep reading for our top tips on overcoming language barriers abroad!
Ways to Overcome Language Barriers
Organisaton is key!
There are several methods for overcoming language barriers whilst travelling. Here, we’ve listed the best of the best, as well as a few key things to keep in mind;
• If you have serious matters you’ll need to discuss whilst abroad, such as allergies or travel arrangements that you’re worried may become detrimental if lost in translation, reach out to your hotel in advance and let them know of your needs. Most hotels want you to have a memorable stay, and will do everything possible to ensure it; if you make contact prior to arrival, it’ll be much easier for them to provide you with the information you need, and make any necessary special arrangements.
• Okay, I know we just said that you shouldn’t assume every country speaks English, but the fact of the matter is we’re incredibly lucky that our Mother tongue is spoken in most places across the globe (at least to some extent). Usually, wherever you travel (and particularly in Europe) you will always be able to find someone who understands English; it’s simply a matter of seeking them out!
• Consider learning the local language (or at least the basics) before your trip. Apps such as DuoLingo are completely free, and are fantastic for teaching you the essentials. As well as fundamentals such as ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’, you should also learn how to address any critical medical issues (such as allergies), as well as important directional and logistical queries (‘How far to the train station?’, ‘Do you have the time?’, ‘Do you speak English?’ etc). Write them on paper to keep in your pocket and save them to your phone as well for easy access. Learning both the local language’s fundamentals as well as the key terms important to you will provide extra peace of mind for your trip should English be a no-go. What’s more, locals will really appreciate the effort you’ve made to learn their language.
• Continue practicing your newfound language skills and learn on the go by speaking with locals. Even if you don’t engage in conversation, listen out for common words and research what these mean for later use.
• Remember, you can always act out what you mean, or draw a picture. You’d be surprised how effective this can be!
• Today, we have apps like Google Translate, which can be incredibly effective in overcoming language barriers. Whilst such apps are not entirely foolproof and don’t solve every problem, they often prove invaluable in many situations. Pocket dictionaries are also super helpful.
• Always carry a pen and notebook with you, and have written down any addresses or phrases you can’t pronounce.
• Finally, remember that a big smile and positive attitude go a very long way!
With language barriers no longer an issue, you’re free to enjoy your holiday!
There are always ways to communicate without being fluent in a language. Simply put, you definitely don’t need to let language barriers limit or define your travel dreams! Besides, attempting to get by in a country that doesn’t speak your language, and the adventures that come from doing so, is half the fun and guaranteed to provide some of the best memories from your trip. It’s all a part of the travel experience, and will give you confidence in at least attempting to speak in a different language; something you may previously never have done!
At Le Mas Candille, our guests’ enjoyment and well-being are always our top priority. If you require any assistance, or have any questions, from simple queries about the weather to serious health concerns, our team will gladly assist- no matter what language you speak.