This Article is About
english language skills
dummies book
first tip
personal basis
thirty days
native language
travel experience
Do You Speak English
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Do You Speak English

Parlez-vous anglais?

Hablas ingles?

Sprechen sie Englisch?

If you are American and are like most Americans, you know how to speak only one language. That language of course is English. You are confident of your English language skills, but now you are going to be taking your first overseas trip. Your travel may take you to Europe or possibly into Asia; to places where English is not the native language.

So you begin to worry about how you will find your way around or how you will be able to order food. You order the Chinese For Dummies book and try to learn all of the letters or symbols. But you know that in thirty days there is no chance of becoming even elementary skilled at the language. What are you going to do? I can certainly imagine as travel day approaches the panic inside you begins to rise.

Do not worry for what follows are four tips for travelling abroad and enjoying the trip. They are simple to understand and will give you the ability to maximize your time in another country.

So let's get started.

The first tip is to just relax. Most people never get a chance to travel abroad to other countries. So do not ruin what should be an experience of a lifetime with worry over language barriers. This journey is going to be fun and a true adventure, so accept that there will be challenges. Enjoy dealing with those challenges. Trying to break through communication differences will ultimately lead to engaging with local people on a more personal basis. This in turn will make your travel experience so much greater.

Secondly, remember that people all around the world are pretty similar to you and myself. Everyone gets up in the morning, get dressed and head off to work or school. We are all similar in nature and so people in other countries are just normal and average people like you or me. The vast majority of people out there are willing to help even when language is a challenge.

A third tip is one that may surprise many folks. In every country that I have travelled to, over twenty around the world, have English signs. This of course is a fairly general statement, but in the major cities the signs will have at least an English sub-title. There are english-worded menus if you ask and even more, lots of people have a minimum ability to speak a few english words. The English language is very much spoken around the world, so you will find a surprising amount to get you through your trip.

Lastly, my fourth tip is meant to enrich your experience in a different country. Go out today to your local bookstore or get on-line. Find a phrase book for the language of the country or countries you will be visiting. Now learn three or four very basic phrases such as "hello" or "do you speak English"? If you do this, you will accomplish a couple of things. For one it shows people that you are "trying" to use their native language. This in turn shows a small amount of respect to them and it will generally cause them to open up and be more helpful.

This last tip is such a big one that most of us forget how big of a deal it really is. The French get a bad reputation for being arrogant or unfriendly. Many times it simply boils down to our own arrogance of thinking everyone speaks English. Think of what happens when a foreign speaking person asks you a question at home. If they use their own language, we tend to bristle at them and that is really just human nature taking over at that point.

If you attempt to first connect with someone in their own language, a door will open that will cause the whole landscape to change. The experience will become so much greater and the connection more fulfilling. Remember, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" is never more true then when you are travelling in a different country. It is polite, and can be quite advantageous, to abide by the customs of a society when one is a visitor.

Your travel will be much more enjoyable and the anxiety will slip away. Slide into the culture and do not be afraid of the language barrier. Travelling is meant to be fun and enjoyed. With these four basic tips, travelling to a different country will become a great experience.

Bon voyage!

Buen viaje!

Gute Reise!

Have a good journey!

Street Talk


Great article and a handy guide. Learning and using the basic phrases of the country you are visiting can very much be a friendly way to connect with people.

  about 9 years ago
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