Usually, overseas trips are quite exciting. You are filled with pleasant emotions and anticipation of a great adventure. But at the same time, there is a fear of how to navigate a new country, especially if you do not speak the local language.
Traveling abroad will be much more fun if you do not have to face the language barrier all the time, or seek the assistance of a translator and tour guide. Most often you will have to speak with foreigners in standard situations: at an airport, restaurant, shop or hotel. And it’s easy to prepare for these situations by learning a few versatile phrases. Moreover, even a few keywords and phrases can incredibly enhance your travel experience.
What Does It Mean to Be Travel Fluent?
You may mistakenly think that you will survive anywhere using English. In most situations, you will survive, but in the best case, English can become a barrier between you and local culture. How can a temperamental Italian tell you about his country in all colors in poor English?
And in the worst situation, you can find yourself in a totally helpless situation in the countries where they speak only their native language. Try to imagine you were left behind by your group in an unknown place, or you lost your phone and have no cash with you.
So, before visiting a new country, it is highly recommended to master its language at a basic level. The local language will help you feel the flavor of the country, communicate with residents, get acquainted with their culture, and easily cope with possible obstacles.
8 Steps to Become Travel Fluent
Here are some simple rules that will help you avoid uncomfortable situations, relieve your emotions, and make your trip abroad absolutely safe and as exciting as possible.
Write and learn a story about yourself
It will be a big advantage if you are able to tell about your background in a foreign language. While traveling, we always meet someone new. So you will be able to introduce yourself, tell about your country and hobbies. It means a lot for a conversation and building your self-confidence in new surroundings. Besides, this knowledge can help you in many other situations and emergencies.
Go through the grammar basics
Even if you have little time to master a new language, try to get acquainted with some fundamental rules: the procedure for constructing sentences, three simple times, the degree of comparison of adjectives, etc.
Of course, it is difficult to learn a lot within a short period of time. But you can easily introduce new language classes into your daily routine by using online tools. You can learn from anywhere and at any time.
Arrange your travel vocabulary
It will be very helpful if you prepare in advance some cheat sheets that will help you during your trip. During the trip, you will find many situations in which you will need local words and phrases to find and settle in a hotel, call a taxi and get to your destination, navigate in an unfamiliar city, make purchases, etc. So choose the key phrases for the following situations: at the airport, on the plane, at the hotel, shopping, asking for directions.
Put together vocabulary for a restaurant
Going to a restaurant or cafe to eat is a great way to practice foreign language skills in a new country. Depending on your needs and lifestyle, you may need certain words when buying or ordering food. For example, it’s important for vegetarians to know phrases that help them order meat-free meals.
And people with allergies and dietary restrictions should learn the translation of forbidden products. It will also be wise to check in advance what are the main dishes of a country’s national cuisine. If you are going to a new place, learn their ingredients so as not to be taken aback when the food arrives.
Learn phrases for greetings and pleasantries
If you start talking in the local language, you will immediately feel a friendly and benevolent attitude towards yourself. This way you will show the locals that you respect their language and culture and even were able to learn something specifically for the trip.
People will understand you even if you speak with the simplest sentences and a strong accent. In a foreign land, you often have to thank someone. On the street, in transport, in a store. Everywhere it is customary to respond politely. Without these colloquial phrases, it will be difficult to travel through an unfamiliar city.
Think about your security
It is a must to know how to ask for help in the event of an emergency. Try to simulate unforeseen situations in advance and learn phrases related to asking for help. You should know them by heart, such statements can save your life in case of danger. You should also know all the basic information about yourself in the local language. It is a minor thing to learn but can hugely support you.
Take a phrasebook with you
It may help on any trip. It contains the most common phrases and basic questions/answers that are actively used in every country. But paper phrasebooks have shortcomings as well. It can hardly teach you the correct pronunciation. And it is a high risk to be misinterpreted. For example, there are many languages in China and you are very unlikely to succeed with a standard phrasebook. For this purpose, it is better to use online applications for immediate translation. You may like iTranslate Voice 3, Microsoft Translator, Google Translator.
Find out more about the language of gestures
If you forget a word, sign language can help you out. In almost all countries, non-verbal means of communication (which include gestures and facial expressions) play an important role in communication.
However, first, you need to check which of the movements is worth using, and which are better to avoid. What is considered the norm or even a friendly gesture in one culture may seem offensive and insulting in another. Even simple head-nodding does not always mean agreement. And not to get into a mess and not be misunderstood, it is advisable to learn the basic gestures that are used there and their meanings before traveling to a new country.
You can easily find plenty of good resources with essential travel phrases in many languages. Do not be intimidated by difficulties, have fun during your study. And step by step, you will develop perfect skills in any language of the world.