A recent survey of over 2000 people by the British Council found that 40% were embarrassed by their language skills but 65% said that learning a few words and phrases before going abroad was important to them. So, what are the benefits to learning some of the local language while on holiday?
Cultural experience: Language is not simply about grammar and syntax; cultural learning is part and parcel of language learning. On holiday this is also true, the ability to understand and communicate somewhat with local people will immerse you further into your holiday destination. This will improve your experience and you’ll get much more out of your holiday.
Shake off the tourist look: The stereotype of the British tourist is not a flattering one: sunburnt Brits communicating with locals by talking louder and slower... Speaking some of the local language, or just making the effort, can help you to avoid this stereotype.
Politeness: To come across as well-mannered, making the effort to speak some of the local language is a good idea. This shows that you’ve made the effort to learn about where you are going on holiday.
No need to be fluent: There is no need to be completely fluent when speaking a second language on holiday. A few phrases will help. In situations such as restaurants, bus stations and shops a few key phrases, such as knowing how to order food, can go a long way.
Logistical perspective: Being able communicate in the local language will go a long way towards navigating around your holiday destination. Being able to read signs, make sense of bus and train timetables and ask directions will help you get around safely during your holiday.
To explain what you can’t do: The ability to explain the limits of your language or that you can’t speak the language is a great benefit. For example, the phrase “I don’t speak French” will help you find someone you can communicate with.
Written by Alex Hill, work experience student