Not Everyone Speaks English
Going abroad for a holiday is something that everybody should do at least once in their life, finances and technicalities permitting. Of course, there is no use trying to convince someone who is a global travel skeptic that they should broaden their horizons. But for anyone else particularly anyone who is wavering over the idea, the attractions of going somewhere completely different must be underlined. They say that travel broadens the mind. They also say that it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive. Only the first of these is really true. If you are traveling, the very best thing about it is experiencing life as it is lived in a different culture.
Foreign travel affords the traveler a lot of different experiences. The very fabric of life in a foreign country is different. From standard considerations like food and climate, to more esoteric matters like architecture and entertainment, a foreign holiday can really open your eyes. But for a holiday like this to have the desired effect it is important that you participate in the experience as fully as you can. It is a truism that you can only take from an experience as much as you put into it. There are cases where this is untrue. Yet, there is a lot of truth in it. You need to be prepared for anything on a foreign holiday. As much as anything else, this means that you need to learn the language.
Now, just in case anyone is panicking, this does not mean that you need to be fluent in Russian if you are planning a short break in Moscow. Fluency in a language is something that can only be achieved by years of study and ideally a large amount of time spent “living” in the language concerned. That means working, shopping and socialising in the language. But there is really no reason not to at least make a concerted effort to learn a few phrases which you will inevitably need on your travels. You don’t need to be able to discuss the political complexities of the city and country where you are holidaying, but being able to order breakfast or book a taxi cab will be useful.
It is a very common opinion that there is little point trying to speak the language with natives, because “everyone speaks English anyway”. There are several reasons why this is a lie, and a potentially damaging one. First of all, not everyone speaks English. In point of fact, particularly in countries with an established and internationally recognized language of their own, a lot of people don’t need to learn English and therefore don’t bother. Secondly, even though some people may speak excellent English, expecting them to change to suit you is a bit presumptuous – like saying “Why bother giving this person my contact details? They can look them up anyway!”
It is more polite to at least attempt to speak the language when you are abroad. If you make the effort, your holiday will be much the better for it as the locals will receive you much more warmly due to you making the effort.
To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Travelnowsimply.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on May 29, 2009.