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International Destinations

What To Do When You Do Not Know the Native Language

Traveling to a foreign country is an exciting way to learn more about the world. However, it can present some unique challenges. Aside from needing to understand the different currency and culture, one of the biggest challenges can be communicating when you don’t speak their language. Even though a surprising number of people in other countries speak English, you shouldn’t expect to be able to effortlessly communicate with locals when you travel. Read on for some tips on how to make the most of your trip, even if you don’t know the native language.

Learning another language can be difficult and time consuming, but if you can get your hands on a book of common phrases in the language of your planned destination, it can make your life much easier. If you know you’ll only need to learn certain phrases, try writing them down on index cards. Be sure to make note of the pronunciation and the meaning in English. By writing them down,, you might have the added benefit of increased retention. If you really want to learn key phrases, take the cards out every day leading up to your trip and spend a few minutes, or hours, repeating the phrases to yourself. After you’ve done this a few times, test yourself. See if you can come up with the phrases before you look at the cards.

A great resource you can use to learn another language is with the use of mobile applications or computer programs. There are several free options available that can help you learn another language. One of the most popular applications available on tablets and smartphones is DuoLingo, which crowd-sources information to help you learn a new language for free.

You should also consider having the names of places in your itinerary written down. That way if you take a taxi or public transportation, you can simply show your driver where you want to go. If you know you need to take a bus to reach your destination, but you’re not sure which bus route to take, try asking a local at the bus stop. People are often more than willing to help tourists out in this situation, even if there’s a language barrier. Sometimes, they will even speak to the bus driver for you in the local language to help ensure you get where you need to go.

If the first person you ask for help doesn’t respond, ask someone else. The most important thing to do when you need to communicate but don’t know the native language is to be friendly. Smile, have patience, and be sure to thank your helper. By not knowing the language, you’re forced to communicate with the locals, which means traveling in a place where you don’t speak the language can make the experience all the more memorable, because you’ll become more immersed in the experience.

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