Thursday, February 01, 2007

Learning Languages

Question: I'm interested in traveling to Europe this summer, but I don't speak any foreign languages. What should I do?

Answer: Second only to guidebooks, this question is a popular one among my students, especially those interested in traveling internationally. On two-week trip around Europe, travelers could experience multiple countries, speaking completely different languages. In most countries, the language barrier is not a problem. Why? Because everyone speaks a little English. Most businesses (usually the high-end hotels and restaurants) employ workers who speak a little English, which makes for better customer service. It's the unofficial travel language. On my first trip abroad, this was one of my biggest concerns, until I arrived with my phrasebook and didn't use it.

If you need more assurance, I suggest you purchase a good phrasebook. They're located at your bookstore near the travel department or in the reference section. I like Lonely Planet's Europe Phrasebook. It features 14 different languages, including Welsh, Maltese, Dutch, and Italian.

As I previously mentioned, you should not have problems speaking English, but I highly recommend you learn a few phrases in the local language. This is a matter of respect for the country you're visiting and a great conversation starter.

Hope this helps!

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Terah Shelton
Traveler. Writer. Ingenue

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