Travel Tips

Don’t Let Language Barrier Stop You from Enjoying Your Trip

By on May 28, 2017


kalman imre, budapest
Statue of Kalman in Budapest – English and German description provided on tab

Traveling to another country is something that is probably ever-present in people’s bucket lists. After all, there is nothing more surreal than exploring a place that’s foreign to you and immersing yourself in its culture and traditions. Everything does seem dreamlike, that is, until language barrier decides to step in and spoil the fun.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem for you if you come from an interracial family and are well versed with a language other than English or your mother tongue. Nevertheless, not all of us are as fortunate. At the same time, not everyone was able to learn some Spanish, a spattering of French, and some other foreign language back in high school. So will you allow this problem to stop you from enjoying your trip? Certainly not! What should you do, then?

Whether your trip is for business or pleasure, it pays to learn the language spoken at the place where you’re going. You don’t have to be an expert linguist; learning just a couple of important words would be enough. You would be surprised how much better your traveling experience would be if you know how to speak even just a few words from the local language. It can actually enhance your experience in ways you never deemed possible.

Some say, “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks”, and that may be true in this case. You can’t expect to master the language, say French, in a matter of days. Hence, a good start would be learning how to speak a few greetings, numbers, directions, simple questions, and phrases such as “How are you doing,” “What’s your name,” “Please,” “Thank you,” “How much is that,” “Where is (so and so place),” and “Nice to meet you,” among others. You would find these simple phrases very handy when you take a cab, eat in a restaurant, or go shopping.

somewhere in Rome
Roaming in Rome, I ended up at Largo Argentina at dusk

Once you’ve got that right down pat, you could progress to a more (somewhat) complex level that would help you “survive” in that place vocabulary-wise. Of course, if you have plenty of time to prepare for the trip, then you can go ahead and have an in-depth study of the language by attending a class or hiring a private tutor.

Learning the language spoken at a certain country makes it easier for you to deal and interact with locals. Inasmuch as English is considered a universal language, you should never assume that everyone in that place speaks English. Some tourists complain that locals don’t treat them all too well, but maybe the language barrier has a lot to do with it. Therefore, if you want a slightly better treatment from locals, you had better learn even just a bit of their language. Believe me; your efforts won’t go unappreciated.

You can actually learn the basics of a language from the comfort of your own home. The Internet offers many different sources to get you started. Some websites doesn’t only teach words and phrases but these also let you listen to audio recordings so you’ll know the proper pronunciation of the words. This is a good way to pick up the basics of a foreign language.

Try to go to the mall and look for a bookstore or any specialty store that sells books, CDs, DVDs, videos, tapes, and even software designed to teach a new language. Some even offer comprehensive combination packages that would make the experience worth your while.

It may seem bothersome, but learning a foreign language offers countless benefits. What’s more, it can broaden your horizons, and perhaps, open up a growing list of opportunities for the future. So topple down that language barrier, learn a new language, and expose yourself to a world of self-improvement and self-fulfillment.

pantheon, rome
Ended up at the Pantheon

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Travel and Learning

Learning About Language and Culture through Travel

By on January 14, 2013

Culture, language and people are three of the things that have always fascinated me. I can’t remember how many times I’ve gone on and on about this fancy of mine but If I had the funds and opportunity to pursue it then I’d probably drop off everything and fly to my dream destinations. I would simply love to immerse myself in their culture and learn their language, and then maybe fulfill my other fancy which is to be a good interpreter or translator. I’d probably pass for a German-English and Spanish-English translator but it’ll also be lovely to add Russian and French translation to my language abilities.

Those who are still young and single are lucky to have opportunities like scholarship grants and language learning experiences offered by governments of some countries. I suggest that they grab this chance to have an educational holiday experience and gain a new language. Here are some of the best places that offer great cultural experiences and interesting language that one would want learn.

kimono and  sakura
would be nice to try on a kimono
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Hajimemashite! Tokyo, Japan is one of the places that I’d like to settle into. I’m simply fascinated with Nihongo -the language, Japanese food and just about anything that is Japanese. Those who would like to study Japanese in Tokyo can look into the various holiday packages that include dormitory or apartment accommodations, or home stay arrangements where you can live with foster parents or families. During your stay try to explore as much of the city and don’t go home without seeing their key attractions.

This includes Sanrio Puroland, Tokyo Tower, Hachiko Monument, Shibuya shopping district, and their various shrines and park. You may also like to visit Mt. Fuji, Kyoto and other interesting spots in Japan. Tourists can also make the most out of their cultural experience by watching sumo tournaments, wining and dining at Ebisu district, indulging in fresh and authentic Sushi dishes, and of course – Unagi! Also, when in Japan, do as the Japanese do: Karaoke! Sing your heart out in a traditional Yukata for a unique mix of old and modern Japanese culture. The spring is one of the loveliest seasons to visit Japan when one can enjoy the beauty of fully bloomed cherry blossoms.

Basilica I Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia
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Hola! Como Estas? The Spanish language is the third dialect I learned while growing up. If there is one place that I’d love to visit to enhance this skill, it’s Barcelona, Spain. Experiencing the sights and sound of this historic city is a great way to get more attuned to the Spanish language. There are also student holiday packages that you can choose from if you want to study here. One can choose from accommodations ranging from budget hotels, room for rent, or dormitories. Get your fill of their tapas during your stay because Barcelona offers some of the best ones in the world. Wash them down with the local cerveza, granizado, or orxata for a perfect meal.

Don’t forget to see their famous sights/sites too, my personal picks are the Montserrat and Pyrenees mountains, Tibidabo, and the Basilica I Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia – a UNESCO world heritage site in the country.

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Bonjour, Comment allez-vous? Just beside the borders of Barcelona is the French region of Dordogne. Although Paris, France is the more popular tourist destination, Dordogne, France offers another side of the French culture that one can also fall in love with. Visitors of this region can look forward to plenty of wine and gustatory experiences. There is the Foie Gras or fattened duck liver, salmon terrine or pate, Pot-au-feu or beef stew, and a variety of French cheese. One can top off their meal with some of the best pattiserie that only the French can offer. Accommodation options here include manors, apartments or pension houses. One can enroll in immersion classes that are available in this region and enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking and canoeing in Dordogne Rivers and side trips to parks, chateaus and popular manors while they are studying.

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English is known as a universal language, but for those who use it only as a second language there is no better place to master it than in London, England. This popular tourist destination is a great choice for polishing up on one’s English proficiency and studying to further their careers. London is known for their museums, architecture, arts and literature. Tourists and student visitors can also enjoy a visit to the Buckingham and Westminster Palaces, a stroll in their scenic parks and gardens, or a ride in the red double-decker buses. Don’t forget to cross the bridge that has been immortalized in the children’s nursery rhyme, the London Bridge!

Experiencing the way of life in different areas of the globe is a gift to be cherished. Those who have the opportunity to do so should treasure every visit and learn as much as they can about the language, culture and people in the country.

And yes, Vienna is a great city to learn German too! 😉

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