I will explore the long and short answer to this question shortly, but if we visit a hotel abroad, most of us will expect (a quite ignorant expectation) them to be able to speak at least a basic amount of our native language.
In Europe, they generally will speak their native language and English, this will differ from location to location and also if the area has a high density of English speaking travellers.
I speak only English, but having been in a situation abroad where I have had to use a hospital (nothing serious), it was difficult to communicate exactly what was wrong and the nurse was understandably frustrated that I had travelled to their country with no basic understanding of how to communicate in an emergency.
When you travel abroad, some basic communication phrases should be at least understood, regardless if you plan on speaking it yourself. As an absolute bare minimum you should probably understand the following:
- Please/Thank you
- Good morning/Good afternoon/good night
If all you know is how to use your manners in their local language, this is often better than nothing at all and generally considered courteous that you are making a conscious effort.
Back to the question:
Should I learn another language?
For a short trip, it’s probably not necessary, there are plenty of websites that can give you the key phrases you should understand to get by such as greetings, manners, ordering food or drink, asking for help or directions, using public transport etc. Knowing this will only come as an advantage to you but for a longer trip, maybe 2 weeks, you should know a little more or the language, if you’re backpacking or travelling for extended periods, then absolutely, you should learn.
Where to start learning a language:
I want to preface this paragraph by saying I have no affiliation with these resources, I am simply sharing them so you don’t have to go and find them yourself.
Learning key phrases is the absolute minimum you should know, and the easiest place to start, memory recall is far easier than speaking learning fluency in a given language.
Here are FREE resources of learning a language:
I would absolutely recommend you start with one of the below, they are all free so you are not putting any money into it, they are all good resources and will get you a decent understanding without the financial commitment.
https://www.fluentin3months.com/basic-phrases/ – some basic phrases in common languages
http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/ – A few free courses on how to start learning
https://www.duolingo.com/ – Free courses on 20+ languages, it is widely praised and also has an app so you can learn on the go, keep in mind it is supported by a freemium app model with in app purchases although not necessary.
https://www.memrise.com/ – Another learning resource with quite a fan base, this also has an app , this has a free option but also a subscription service for those who wish to use it.
https://www.youtube.com/ – I really cannot emphasise enough how much I have learned from free resources on youtube, just search “X language lessons”, with a bit of trial and error you will find someone you can follow along with who has a comprehensive video library that you can learn from.
I recently found out about someone called Tim Ferriss, his techniques used for learning languages are some of the best I have seen and can be applied to learning any skill, there is a video below breaking down those techniques:
Here are PAID resources of learning a language:
https://www.udemy.com/ – One tip I have with Udemy is that they run sales extremely frequently, often all courses go down to £10/$10 making them worth a punt even if you don’t like it, you haven’t invested a lot of money in it. Do your research on the course instructor as it is user submitted so make sure you check reviews and course overviews.
https://uk.babbel.com/ – This is again another resource that is treat with high regard from the language learning community but works from a monthly subscription, however, they have a 20-day money-back guarantee if you don’t like it.
http://www.rosettastone.co.uk – I am not sure I can recommend this one but it’s available all the same, their pricing structure is hard to find and once you do, you will see its quite expensive in my opinion compared to competitors although their courses seem extremely comprehensive, I just personally don’t like the fact they make the cost hard to find.
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