When you are in another country, do you usually buy a phrase book to attempt to speak the local language? Why/why not?
One of our early trips was to Greece. We were worried about not understanding the language. We bought language tapes and practiced for months. We had to laugh at ourselves because when we got to Greece because many of the people we ran into were try-lingual. Many could speak Greek, French and English. Sadly, we Americans for the most part do not have the language skills that many other countries have.
I try (try being the operative word) to lean at least please and thank you for each country but when moving on a daily it's difficult to remember the words. There are so many countries now were English is spoken so I seem to get lazier in learning more than the need to be polite.
It is usually not difficult to find English speakers now. I do have one funny story. When we were backpacking in south Turkey, in quite remote area we ran out of food and did not find any restaurants. So we decided to go into someone's house and try to buy food. They did not speak any English and did not even understand Bread (I tried to say it in 5 different languages). Finally we resorted to sign language and the lady understood enough that it is something to do with food and then took me to her kitchen where I collected whatever we wanted to eat. She set a table for us, made some bread and served us a great meal. We did manage to covey our gratitude and then pay her for it without having any common vocabulary.
I did learn Spanish because I wanted to travel to South America and that came in handy, also gave me an edge in understanding Italian. Now I am learning German 😊
In response to: Msg #198722
I speak basic Turkish but found that people in the East didn't understand anything I said so it was sign language all the way.
In response to: Msg #198719
We are like you in that we attempt to learn a few key words and phrases in the language of the country we are traveling to. Many people really appreciate the effort. Plus they enjoy laughing politely when we say it wrong.
There always an app. You just press the phrase that you need to say and your phone will say it for you. I know it's lazy but hey I'm a millenial and it's 2016 😊
Josevich you made me laugh! I'm currently in Mexico, and I'm getting kinda lazy with my Spanish. I find myself typing out what I want to say on my phone and instantly translating to the awaiting person. This is not bueno!
In all countries I visited learning the local language was not really needed to communicate. English,, hands and fingers were sufficient.
But I try to learn the most used basic phrases and words that you might use as a traveler like 'Thank you', 'Good morning/day' or 'Yummy'. Saying some of these words when talking with locals make them smile - maybe also because of your funny pronouncation but certainly also because you show a bit of appreciation of their language and culture by doing so.
I speak a few languages, but while on a bus, train or boat to my next destination, I always learn about 10-20 phrases in the new language as well as any new alphabet. Once in Turkey, I asked if a bus was headed to Cappadocia. The driver looked up and clicked his tongue; fortunately, I'd learned gestures too, so I knew that this meant NO. However, as a museum maven, I also take my little dictionary or phrase book into museums and translate titles and descriptions and gain lots of goodies this way. Too bad I don't have a phone and an app--next life!
Sorry I was away in November.
Yes, I try to learn the local language as much as I could...just speaking. English is fine in most of the cities. But when traveling in rural areas, it helps. When I first traveled to Thailand, I learned how to speak Thai for six months. I also ordered CD so that I could practice the tonal part of the language by listening to it. At the end, I could speak reasonably well. This time, I learned a bit of Bahasa before traveling to Indonesia. My tour planner helped me in that. To me, learning a language is also a fun, I enjoy it.
In response to: Msg #198714
and sadly Merry we Brits are just as bad. We feel we gave the world English and to make it worse we seem unlike the Dutch to be able to master any other language. A few of us here speak two languages English and welsh but it is mainly the young who seem to be able to master other languages. Perhaps its the way we were taught french and german in school perhaps it is because everyone under 40 abroad seem to speak English we just dont bother .
We have found if we use a few phrases in the local dialect, the locals will open their open doors to us and welcome us to share part of their lives. The World is full of generous people who will open their doors if we reach out, albeit sparingly, in their own language. Our humanity is all that is needed after that.
Ive been away for a little while....this year Ive had to learn to communicate in Malagasche (Madagascar), Czech (No hope, none at all), Hungarian (No Hope, other than finding out my surname means YES - I asked my friend living in Budapest and found out why everywhere I went I kept hearing people saying my surname,,,,no i did not have a fanclub unfortunately) German (Germany and Austria - Yeah, Right, even less hope..I can say Danke though) French (Reunion and Mauritius and Madagascar) - badly, very very badly...although I did not ask for a glass of ocean to drink as my dive buddy did that for me much to my amusement, Pidgen and Bislama (Vanuatu - oh this was awesome, the two languages I speak most fluently ended up being the reason I was given a smol piece of land on the Island of Tanna), Bahasa (Indonesian LOB - I speak Ok dive Bahasa), and no hope at all of communicating with anyone in Abu Dhabi but plenty of english speakers around. You may wonder why I had trouble finding people speaking english in Germany...sounds ridiculous doesnt it? - try stepping off the tourist path and finding yourself in remote saxony where no one speaks english because tourists do not go to that part of germany very often - and apparently my Aussie accent turns Dresden into something completely unintelligible. IF its pronounced Dwessdhennn why not spell it like that on the map!!!! In Prague and Vienna also no problems finding English speakers but try driving across the Ore Mountains from Prague to Reindorf in Germany and trying to find help when your GPS and a car attacking deer send you into small villages outside of small villages when even flagging down a police car will not help. After finally showing the Police I pulled over (possibly by driving on the wrong side of the road) where I needed to go because they could not understand my attempts at saying Dwessdhennn either - even they spoke no english and just pointed behind them when they read Dresden on my Air BnB app.
Re using an App to communicate - I had an AirBnB for some of the time I was in Budapest an absolute bargain at $17AUD a night right at the end of the blue line so out towards the ...less...desirable..neighbourhoods - after dragging my bag up three flights of stairs I met my host who did not speak a word of english but would grab her Iphone (bless her 71 year old heart) and speak into it, show me the translation and I would respond the same way. It came in handy when I felt I had to tell her "I am a happy working girl" on her AirBnB profile may be misconstrued by some tourists from some countries.
Netherlands - no problems at all.
2016 was my year of travelling cluelessly and without a plan.....or many language skills but as Dave mentions - a smile gets you a long way......except in remote Czech and remote Saxon villages. Dwesssdhennn 😉
I'm covered everywhere that English or French is spoken but otherwise I seem to get very good at picking up some essential words and my non-verbal communication helps out quite a bit. Seriously learning a few key words in the language of the country being traveled can really open up new doors and experiences.
At the moment, I'm in the process of learning Spanish. I'm hoping to learn enough to be fluent for eventual trips to Cuba, South America and Spain.
In my travels I have learned the basics in Swahili, Greek, Arabic, Spanish and Chinese because the locals really appreciate it when you at least attempt to speak their language. It's not hard to get the basics because you just look it up on the internet. I make a small sheet of paper with the phrases I need on it and if I forget it's easy to pull it out of my pocket and refer to it. This method has always worked well and produced smiles of appreciation (at least I think it was appreciation!) from the locals. I consider it good manners to at least try to communicate with people in their own language. In China I found very few people speak English and that sheet of paper was invaluable. Luckily I copied & pasted the Chinese characters onto my sheet and many times had to show it to the person for them to understand what I wanted. The same word in Chinese pronounced different ways means a myriad of different things.
Well we're doing it hard. Vietnamese and Chinese, not exactly languages which roll off the tongue! We had a basic Vietnamese lesson in Hoi An which gave us, like Marian, a few key phrases we could use for our month there.
Now in China, and yes it is a different kettle of fish. One of my aims is to find somewhere we can do some English conversation classes in return for learning some Chinese. Here in Guilin there are supposed to be many English speakers but our best conversations so far have been with children on the street, some google translate and a few tourism officials.
We were on a boat in Ba Tu Long Bay with, 1 Brit, 1 Aussie, 1 Romanian, 1 German, 1 French and 1 Spanish and yes they all spoke perfect English putting us to shame.
Am looking forward to brushing up the Spanish in Cuba though!
You should not try to speak the language of the other country during your travel. Try to use only those phrases which you will need to in some situations. Like when you are commuting somewhere or have to inquire about something.
I tried to learn Spanish on line before walking the Camino across northern Spain. I got to about 20% proficiency, but I didn't think so as most of the vocabulary I learned had little relevance to what I was going to do, so I gave up. Once I got to Spain I found that I at least had a foundation and continued to pick up the language there. I did pretty well as I didn't need to learn much to get by an most situations. Mostly I used my French and German as there are so many pilgrims from those countries. I do try to learn a few words in every country I visit, but am extremely grateful that I speak English, the most common language.
In response to: Msg #199932
We always have that universal language to fall back on and the kindness of people.
Love the world of traveling.