Is it necessary to learn the language before going traveling? Watch
In many places they won't know any english so having a basic understanding of the language they speak will help
- Study Helper
(counting: 1 to 10 then 20, 30 in tens up to 100, 1000.)
Good morning, afternoon, evening.
Thank you (very much).
I don't speak (...*...) very well, can you speak English? ( * = insert primary language of country visited)
How much is this please?
Can I have the bill please?
Can I have a (water, milk, coffee, tea, beer etc.) please?
Small, medium, large.
Where is the.......(beach, pharmacy, supermarket, bank, police station, British Embassy? etc.)
Cathedral, church, monument, mosque etc.
My name is...
What is your name?
Things that you will find on a menu:
Starter, main, desert.
It's not hard. Just make an effort and the locals will only be too pleased to help.
To be frank, you will be surprised at the numbers of people who can speak English wherever you go - especially the younger people under say 25 - 30 year olds.
Do not rely on having internet or mobile access, especially outside of the main tourist areas and town centres. If you od you use a mobile for internet access, be sure you know how much you are paying for the privilege - data can be extortionate and you could easily run up huge bills when roaming. Be warned!
People could get really offended if you talk to them in standard British english, so learn a bit of the language, or at least an "Excuse me, do you speak English?"
But if you learn a little local language it can make things easier and if its somewhere where not many tourists come the locals love it, especially when you get it wrong
I am interested in going traveling after college around south America or east Asia and am wondering if it is expected to know the language? If I decide to go to South America I will definitely attempt to learn Spanish, I don't want to be the person shouting English at someone hoping they will understand me
In East Asia, I spent two weeks in China, two weeks in South Korea, and a week in Taiwan with nothing more than thank you in the local languages. South Korea and Taiwan were easier. In China I came across very few English speakers - I guess many young people speak English but not those necessarily doing the kind of service jobs you’ll come into contact with (restaurant, supermarket, train station etc.) In China I had to be very organised in advance, leaving my hostel each morning with clear maps for where I was going, names of all places in Pinyin/English and Mandarin in case I needed directions etc. I could also recognise some of the Chinese characters as a Japanese learner so that helped a little. But lots of pointing and hand gestures.
So it’s totally doable without the local language, but can be hard work. Harder then you’ll find travelling in Europe.
I lived in Japan for 10 months but as I went with a basic level of the language it’s hard to comment on how you’d cope without it as many Japanese won’t let on they speak English if you know Japanese, so it can appear that nobody speaks English when really they’re just too shy or modest to. Definitely in big cities or tourist places you’d probably be fine. Japanese people are so welcoming and helpful even when there’s a language barrier. And you can say konnichiwa or arigatou gozaimasu in the worst accent and they’ll love it and act like you’re fluent (which was a huge confidence boost when I arrived terrified to say anything in Japanese!)
So, essentially, you can go without the language but in some places it will make things harder and you’ll have to be more prepared. Spanish is pretty easy to pick up so I’d definitely recommend learning some for South America. East Asian languages will be harder to acquire but having the basics can’t hurt if you’ve the time to learn them