How Learning A Foreign Language Benefit Your Travels

Learning will do good no matter what the subject is and same goes for learning a foreign language. No matter where we travel, speaking the local language can be a task of its own, even if we practice before hand. Knowing the local language could help us better understand our surroundings. This is why learning a foreign language could open up new opportunities and could give us perspective that we might never encounter otherwise. It is as simple as knowing key phrases in a foreign language that makes it easier for us to communicate, with a rickshaw driver in Bangkok for example.

Learning A Foreign Language

Learning A Foreign Language

Learning A Foreign Language | (c) Photo By World Nomads

It is quite common among Americans, especially among young adults to travel abroad. Until recently, people rarely ventured beyond their home states. Now, a large number of people travel to other North & South American countries, Europe and even to Asia and Africa. Knowing the language locals speak is not a requirement for travel. Besides, it’s impossible to learn the languages of every country we visit. Nevertheless, travelers who know the foreign language are at an advantage. They can solve everyday travel problems with ease and can have a more pleasant experience in learning the foreign cultures.

A few years back I stayed in an elegant Quebec hotel in Canada. My French was not all that good at the time and I wasn’t sure how best to communicate with tuxedo staff with French accents. But I made it a point to initiate every interaction with few key French phrases I knew. That sure worked wonders during my stay. Now I learn the same key phrases in foreign languages of countries I travel to. So even if I know the waiter at the fancy restaurant speaks flawless English, I’d place my order in their native language.

Here are some keywords and phrases that I always try to learn in a foreign language before traveling. Of course you can carry a cheat sheet with you or better yet, download a translator app to your phone to help you along the way.

  • Hello / Bonjour
  • Goodbye / Au revoir
  • Thank you / Merci
  • Please / S’il vous plait
  • Sorry / Desole
  • Yes / Oui
  • No / Non
  • OK / D’accord
  • I would like… / Je voudrais
  • Do you speak English? / Parlez vous anglais?
  • How much? / Combien?

Give it a try, learn a few phrases in a foreign language before you travel and see how your language skill could go a long way. Have you tried learning a foreign language? What phrases do you find most useful when traveling to other countries? Leave your comments below.

6 Responses to “How Learning A Foreign Language Benefit Your Travels”

  1. You’re absolutely right. Learning the language (or even just the basics) totally transforms your experience abroad and breaks down the cultural barrier to allow you to feel connected with the people and place. It’s an additional element of growth and experience that we find when we travel abroad. Thank you Shamis!

  2. Spanish says:

    Knowing a few phrases really does add to your experience and the interactions you have with people while traveling. Before going to Italy I learned quite a lot of different phrases, and because of my knowledge of Italian, I was able to quickly learn some verbs and tenses. It really made a big difference to the way people respond to you. I don’t like going to a country and immediately speaking English with everyone I meet. So taking your time just to learn, “Do you speak English?” makes a big difference.

    It’s also important to make sure that you get the right pronunciation, and if you are going to learn some questions, also learn some common answers. It’s no use asking, “How do I get to the train station?” if you don’t also learn some key vocabulary for directions.
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    • Shamis says:

      Thank You for your comment. The point that was made on knowing the answers to the questions you ask in a foreign language, that is very true. Without knowing the simplest answer, there is no point asking :)

  3. Adeline says:

    I agree! Learning a few phrases can definitely be so helpful whenever you’re traveling, especially in countries where English is not really spoken by the majority. It’s one of the reasons why translation apps are very handy. The phrases that you mentioned are a definite must to learn in any language. I had my share of mispronouncing some words (especially Chinese and Korean). But, I found that even though I might have sounded funny to them, the people I try to communicate with are a whole lot more accommodating. I guess it’s all because they see that you’re at least trying your best. :D
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    • Shamis says:

      It’s true Adeline, when you know a few phrases and try your best to speak and pronounce, you usually get a smile and people are more willing to help you. Even a simple ‘hello’ in another language goes a long way when you are in a foreign country!