When you travel to a foreign country, you may count on local people speaking your language when you get there. If you are a native English speaker, it is easy to assume that most people will understand you on your trip abroad, especially in Europe, but that is not always the case.
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Unexpected Language Barriers
For example, many Spanish coastal resorts employ English-speaking staff, and you can probably get by without speaking any Spanish on your holiday;however, if you venture away from the tourist spots, the situation changes. In cities like Granada, Cordoba and Seville, many people do not speak English or only know some basic words. This can make life much more difficult for travellers.
A Little Effort Goes A Long Way
Wherever you are heading, trying to speak the language can go a long way. Even in countries like Germany, where English is widely spoken, it pays to learn some basics before your trip. The locals appreciate it, and you’ll feel less of a stranger by going that extra mile.
In the digital era, it’s relatively straightforward to find resources that can help on your language-learning journey. For example, to get started with a second language such as German or Spanish, you could hire a local tutor in your area. Having lessons online or face to face is the best way to get started. This helps you with pronunciation, which can be a problem when learning from a phrase book. Just a few hours of private classes can help you learn all the basic phrases you’ll need to get by on your trip abroad, especially when dealing with hospitality staff in hotels, bars, and restaurants.
Even if you can’t maintain a conversation, the locals will appreciate that you made the effort to learn some phrases and may be friendlier or more helpful. If you really want to impress the locals on the small island of La Gomera in Spain’s Canary Islands, you could learn some Silbo Gomero, a language made entirely of whistles.
Reduce Your Holiday Stress
If you tend to go back to the same destinations year after year, you’ll have even more opportunities to practice between your trips. Each time you go, you’ll feel more comfortable and more integrated with what’s happening locally.
This can transform your trip as you’ll start to discover more about the area, the customs, and the places that the locals like to hang out. You can watch TV and movies in the local language. And you may even form new friendships and start to feel at home. This can make your vacations a much more comfortable and less stressful experience.
A World Of Opportunities
If you learn a language such as Spanish, you will also open up a world of professional opportunities. There are 20 countries in the world where Spanish is the official language and nearly 500 million native Spanish speakers globally. Spanish is spoken in much of Central and South America, with 110 million Spanish speakers in Mexico alone. It is also widely spoken in the USA, where there are more than 40 million Spanish speakers.
In Spain, foreign language studies have shown that around 60% of the population speak no English at all. In addition, only 5% of the population speaks English to a high standard. This shows how wrong many people are to assume that you can travel to Spain and get by with only English.
Learning a language takes time and effort but the rewards can be huge. What’s more, learning one language can also inspire you to learn another. For example, Spanish speakers find it quite easy to pick up Italian as there are many similarities with words and verb conjugation.
Speaking a foreign language makes travel more exotic and exciting. It takes you out of your comfort zone, it helps you to better connect with the world around you, and it is an education like no other. Who knows where your language learning journey will take you?