Not all of us can be gifted polyglots, switching between languages with ease and navigating easily through multiple corners of the globe. For the rest of us, it's important to learn quickly and perhaps have a dictionary or some sort of translation on hand. While most larger cities in the world accommodate a variety of languages including English, knowing the local language is still an important skill in general and especially if you'll be visiting any rural areas. But what should you learn? Though your trip will provide lots of hands-on practice, it will be impossible to cram an entire language before then. So what should you focus on? Here's just a few words and phrases you should commit to memory in the local language before heading to your destination.
This should be pretty obvious. You'll be greeted no matter where you go and you should be able to do the same. In some languages, the same word is used for both.
"Do You Speak English?"
You may save yourself the headache of attempting to communicate in the local language but simply asking if they speak English. As it was mentioned, most large cities or areas where they expect lots of tourists have lots of English speakers.
"Please, Thank You, I'm Sorry"
Niceties will get you far anywhere in the world. From asking for directions to apologizing simply for not knowing the language, it will be much better received when delivered politely.
"How Much Is This?"
At some point, you're going to spend money on your travels so it only makes sense to know how and when to ask this. Familiarize yourself with the local currency and numbers 1 - 10 as well so the answer doesn't leave you stumped.
"Where Is The Restroom?"
Restroom signage is pretty standardized around the world, but in establishments where they aren't clearly marked, it's a good idea to know how to ask so you're not playing charades every time.
"I Don't Understand"
Just in case someone mistakes your proficiency with a few phrases for fluency, it's good to be able to let the speaker know you're having issues understanding so they can either slow down, switch to another language or, if they absolutely must, end the conversation. Be sure to couple this one with "I'm sorry"
As you learn more of these languages, integrate your previous learning in with newer words and phrases. For longer trips, being conversational is especially important so you can function. Even if you live in an area where English is commonly spoken, more is better when it comes to learning new languages. Start learning and happy travels!