Recently, I saw the question, “If you could snap your fingers and be proficient in anything, what would it be?” I found myself answering very quickly… LANGUAGES! I would absolutely love to be fluent in another language, I mean while I’m at it, I might as well say I would love to be a linguistic mastermind, haha! Actually, there is nothing more appealing for me to learn at the moment. Being multilingual is kinda like having a super power, right?! I have only taken small jabs at learning Spanish, French, German, and Italian. I hope to be fluent in at least one of these one day, but for now I have decided these are the top 5 phrases every traveler should try to learn:
Just saying a simple ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ in someone’s language speaks volumes and shows respect and politeness. Learning how to say phrases like saying ‘Good Morning‘, ‘See You Soon’, ‘Good Evening’, etc. are always good to know as well. Go a step further and learn the formal and informal uses too, like in Italian, a formal greeting would be Buongiorno and the informal greeting is Ciao (I super love that Ciao means both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’, don’t you?!).
Having good manners is definitely a universal language. Now, I understand some of what consists of having bad manners in America might not always be considered bad in other countries and vice versa. I’ve heard that burping after a meal in some countries is considered a compliment to the chef, not so much here in the States. However, I’m pretty sure most would agree that saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in the native language of the person your speaking to would be appreciated and well received.
So far, most places I’ve visited have had quite a few people that speak English. I’ve found that as long as I’m being polite and just ask “do you speak English?” in their language, eight times out of ten people say ‘yes’. Funny story…My husband and I went to a little cafe in Paris and this rude person (unfortunately, he was an American **shake head in disappointment**) barged in, asking the barista why he wasn’t getting wifi. He disregarded everyone that was in line and demanded an answer! The barista didn’t seem to understand him at all. In fact, the barista didn’t speak “English” at all until we thanked him for our coffee and then overheard us talking about getting directions to our next location, then answered us in perfect English (with a beautiful French accent, of course!). My point is, be kind…it really does come back in the best kind of ways:-)
Tip 1: If you are looking to purchase a language learning program, you might consider the company Fluenz. I received their Italian 1 for a birthday present before visiting Italy. I found it to be very useful on our trip!
This is an important phrase, however, if your asking for directions you might want to learn a few other simple words like ‘right’ and ‘left’. Don’t underestimate the power of body language and hand gestures, though! I have found many bathrooms just by getting pointed in the right direction;-) Also, learning the words ‘this’ and ‘that’ have been very helpful! Pointing to a map or an address and asking, “Where is this?” can be a lot easier than trying to pronounce an Italian museum correctly. We went to a museum in Italy called Le Domus Romane Di Palazzo Valentini…try to pronounce that quickly or correctly, ha! Speaking of Italy, I love how you can understand a lot of what they are saying just by their hand gestures and body language! Read about my visit to this museum in the following link…Celebrating in Italy, Rome part 3!
I couldn’t decide which one was more important, so these two phrases tied at number 5. Both of these phrases would be useless without knowing at least a few numbers or unless the person you’re speaking with answers in your language. So, learning how to count would be necessary as well…sorry I keep adding to the list like that. Whoops! I really love how other countries don’t give you the bill unless you ask for it first. It makes it quite easy to sit and enjoy your meal without feeling rushed at all, but trying to get their attention without saying ‘check, please’ is almost impossible at times. I also found that a lot of open-air markets and even some boutiques don’t price their merchandise. So, knowing how to ask ‘how much?’ has been very helpful too.
Tip 2: When shopping, try using a calculator to show numbers to sales attendants. This will help for communicating numbers without having to speak them;-)
So, there is my top 5 phrases in 5 languages (travelers should try to learn these phrases in whatever language used in the country they’re traveling to). The only reason ‘yes’ and ‘no’ wasn’t on my list is because we can all communicate that easily without speaking, yes?! (But, those words would be good to learn as well, if you don’t already know them.)
What phrases or words would you add to the list?