How learning to Communicate the Basics can help you overcome Language Barriers

Picture Courtesy: http://www.caodangvietmy.edu.vn

Language is all about connecting with people. Its an expression of our thoughts, feelings and often necessities, especially in case of travel. Knowing the language of a country often makes it easier to connect with the native people. While you cannot be a language pro overnight, learning these basic questions in any native language will help you to move along easily in any place, despite the language barriers. 

1.  Breaking the Ice:

Hello is the first word we communicate before we spark a conversation with an unknown native on his land. Knowing to say Hello in the native language can immediately grab the attention of the native, helping him to realize often that you are a serious traveler and trying to respect the culture of a country. Add a Thank You to it and you might end up making a new friend in the unknown land.

2. Asking for Directions:

This part can be tricky at times, and it often happens that despite all the latest gadgets in your hand, you might have to ask someone a way out. Instead of asking for the place, the best way is to ask where the Public Transport or Taxi Stand is. Once there, you can check out the charts and time-tables of the places you are intending to hit. Check out for your stop on the charts and then plan ahead from there. If you do not seem to find your stop on the list, you at least now have an inquiry to ask your questions.

 3. Asking for things on the menu:

Well, this is for the vegetarians especially. An overwhelming menu card on your lunch table can make you nerdy especially when you are very very hungry. And also looking for the Vegetarian food is a challenge as not all countries serve that as a delicacy. Learning to ask questions such as Is the food Spicy, tangy, etc. before you order a dish can save you a lot of trouble when it actually lands on your table. Also doesn’t that make you stylish enough to be able to order coffee in the native language, with a tip of course!!

4. Asking for the Codes of Conduct:

This is where you will end up doing maximum damage to yourself if you are not careful about it. Every country has a cultural code and it is directly connected with the sentiments. For eg, in India, we never enter inside a temple with our shoes on. Learn some words which can help you ask the Customs and Traditions of that place. You will find that the native will lead you through the other end of the tunnel in this one.

5. Asking for Help:

I always recommend carrying a small diary exclusively containing contact information about the important offices of a country. You can directly communicate with those contact nos. and save yourself a lot of trouble in case of any mishap. However if you do not have one in place as you may be travelling right now, you can easily make one though. These are the contact nos. you should have and you must be able to ask out a native in case of any troubles.

  • Embassy address of your country
  • Hospital and Ambulance Services
  • Passport and Visa offices
  • Security Agencies

6. Bargaining in the Marketplace:

You are new in a place and you will fill up your shopping bags I am sure. Learning to bargain like a native can help you to stay upfront while you buy. You must be aware of the local currency, the things that the country is famous for and the prices it often sells for. Bargaining is an art and defeating the native completely will be difficult, but then, you can always end up somewhere in between.

7. Making Arrangements:

You might often want to confirm your hotel and itinerary appointments with the service providers. I landed into a language catastrophe trying to do that in Thailand. The English is snail paced (literally) and by the time you end up speaking your requirement, they are still at the starting word. That is not their fault. It does not necessitate them to be fluent in English all the time and we have to respect that fact. So I said ‘Satwa-dee-kaa’ (Hello in Thai) and reduced the tempo to one fourth the original. That helped, though I realized I better learn how to ask out the confirmations in Thai Language before I landed myself in the same difficulty again. Basic things such as time and date, days, months, numbers of calendar, can help you convey and confirm your itinerary requirements better.

8. Seeking Medical Help;

This I know spoils the entire mood of the tour if one has to digress from sightseeing to seeing the doctor. Nevertheless, sometimes, the change in the weather, as they say might sometimes take its toll. One must be able to ask for medical help or know how to spell a drug store or the hospital in the native language. In panic situations, the nerve stimulus tends to bring us back to the subconscious response and then often, it may lead to one trying to speak his own language rather than the native. A little bit of knowledge helps here and can be handy.

A brief introduction to italki:

Last but not the least. If you are really crazy about speaking and learning a language before you travel, this tool can help you to get along. Italki helps you to connect with millions of language tutors both Professional as well as Informal. Get over the hiccups of language as you travel as you can take your lessons on the way!! Cool! And if you are a pro tutor, you can use to teach others too.

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