There are lots of little things you can do to make travelling in a country where you don’t speak the language a little easier. We wanted to offer some useful tips below:
The main and most obvious thing that will help is to learn the language! This might seem to contradict the title of this blog post, but learning the basics is a huge help when you’re a tourist. Obviously, it is not feasible to become fluent in the language of every country you might ever like to visit before making your trip, but taking some time to get familiar with the basics is invaluable. You could use language learning apps like Duolingo to become familiar with the essentials or sign up to a language class for beginners to help ensure you are confident in what you will need to know before making your trip. If you’re in the Liverpool area, we can recommend, first-hand, language classes with Chataway!
If you haven’t learnt the basics or encounter a situation which requires language you are not familiar with, all is not lost. It is often helpful in a pinch to use hand gestures to convey your meanings. When all else fails, a little bit of charades can go a long way! Pointing can also be a good way to ensure you are getting the correct information across, for example, pointing at the menu when you are attempting to pronounce the meal you want, or pointing to the place on the map.
Another little trick which can be useful as a foreign tourist is carrying around flash cards with important information, like the address of your hotel, or an emergency contact number. Having things written down in the language in advance to show a native speaker is a good back up plan if you aren’t able to make yourself understood verbally.
It is worth noting that these tips work better when there is an attempt at verbal communication alongside them. Making an effort to communicate in someone’s native language shows politeness and respect, and people are likely to be more friendly when they can see you’re trying. Just pointing at a menu can come across a little bit rude, but if you make an attempt to communicate verbally, even if your pronunciation is miles off, it will likely be well received by the speakers.
Another thing that can be helpful when you’re struggling to make yourself understood are translation apps, like Google Translate. Although we all know the translations can be questionable at lot of the time, it may help the native speaker get the general gist of what you are saying, and help you get from A to B.
This being said, Google Translate should only ever be used for small, inconsequencial conversations, or translating menus and road signs, and should never be used in lieu of professional translation services. Any translations needed for official documents, I.E Passport or Visa applications MUST be done by professional linguists. If you need help with any translation, whether for a trip abroad or otherwise, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
Do you need professional translation services?
International Translations are Members of the ATC and can provide certified translations, required when documents need to be translated for a Passport or Visa applications.