5 Reasons To Brush Up Your Language Skills Before You Go On Holiday!
Are you jetting off to the French Alps this winter? Or maybe the smooth slopes of Austria have taken your fancy? Perhaps you couldn’t resist the attraction of skiing in northern Italy? Or maybe you just want to get away from the cold and head to the Southern Hemisphere: Rio de Janeiro, Havana or even Buenos Aires.
In all of these examples, you will probably get away with not speaking the local lingo. Or maybe you already speak a little French or Spanish and you think you’ll get by on that.
But wouldn’t it be great if you could do more than what you already can. Sure, you can already order a beer successfully in Spanish. But wouldn’t it be great to have the linguistic knowledge to ask the waiter if the meal you’re ordering contains coriander, and if it does, can he make sure there isn’t any in there because you hate coriander.
This is one of the many practical reasons for brushing up your language skills before heading off on holiday this year. Whether you’re going on a skiing trip or you’re preparing for a nice long beach and sun holiday in the French Riviera, have a think about these reasons for tweaking your language knowledge or even starting to learn a new language:
(1) Communicating with Hotel Staff
Apart from the concierge, most hotel staff speak very little English. Have you ever tried to tell a chambermaid that she’ll be able to clean the room between 2pm and 3pm? Having some basic language skills can help you get your message across. This would come in handy particularly when you’re trying to tell the staff about a problem with your room!
Sometimes knowing a basic word or phrase can solve all manner of problems!
(2) Understanding Signs
When you’re walking around a foreign city, trying to find your way can be a nightmare, because the map you’ve got in your hands was designed for tourists but all the signs in the streets are for local residents. Try holding a map of Cracow (Poland) and try following the Polish signs to the river and promenade (“do rzeki”) or to the castle (“zamek”) – very different to English!
(3) Asking for Directions
If you’re wandering the streets of a major European city, such as Barcelona or Stockholm, you should be fine for asking for directions. But what if the person you stop does indeed speak English but feels a bit ashamed of their linguistic abilities and doesn’t want to embarrass themselves? Having some holiday language knowledge could help a treat in this kind of situation. A few basic phrases such as “Excuse me, how can we get to…?” or “Could you tell me where the …. is, please?” could mean the difference between walking around in circles and getting to where you want to get to!
Often you have no choice but to try to get by using body language
(4) Understanding Menus
So, you’re in the restaurant, reading the menu and you ask the waiter what each dish contains. What if the waiter tells you the dish you’re particularly interested in is a meat dish but can’t tell you which kind of meat? What if you love chicken, and you’re hoping it is chicken, but when it comes it’s pork? It isn’t the waiter’s job to make sure you understand the menu! So, don’t risk anything – brush up on your food vocabulary and understand menus perfectly well!
Even knowing simple words and phrases can save time and improve your experience
(5) Meeting New People
One of the greatest parts of going on holiday is making new friends and acquaintances. Imagine you and your other half are on holiday in Greece and you get chatting to a French couple. They probably know English to a fair degree, but if you knew just a bit more French, maybe it would make communication a little bit easier – a perhaps even funnier!
Who knows what friendships you’ll make along the way with foreign language skills
So, whether you know nothing in a foreign language or you’ve got the basics under your belt, it could go a long way to freshen up your language skills.
A polyglot and international traveller. Anthony speaks 6 languages and loves sharing his passion of language learning through his writing.