Be a Wandering Linguist: Why It Pays to Learn a Language Before You Travel

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Traveling to another country can be all fun and exciting – planning your entire itinerary, booking plane tickets and hotels near KeyArena in Seattle, and browsing the Internet for the best restaurants in town. But there’s one thing that can make a trip challenging; that is when you can’t speak the local language.

It can be frustrating when you’re not able to understand a single word the locals are saying. You’ll feel a little isolated because of your inability to communicate and make connections with them, especially when you’re traveling alone. However, this shouldn’t stop you from appreciating an entirely new culture and opening yourself up to a new world.

There are some preparations you can do to make sure you wouldn’t miss out on beautiful moments and learning opportunities just because of the language barrier. You don’t have to be fluent, of course. But there are many advantages to learning a few conversational phrases before you take off.

More chances for interactions

If you’re not familiar with the native language of the country you’re visiting, it immediately restricts you in terms of meeting the locals and forming genuine friendships and connections with them. You can only talk to those who speak the English language, which definitely lowers your chances of being friends with the locals if you’re in, say, France or rural Italy. Of course, if you’re lucky enough, there will be people who will try to reach out to you and include you in conversations even if you don’t share the same language. But, this won’t last long; after all, people get bored and frustrated easily.

If you find yourself mingling with a group, even if all of them speak English, the common scenario is that they’ll communicate with each other in their native tongue and only talk to you in English if they really want you to understand the conversation and say something to you. This means you won’t be able to give any valuable input or really feel that you’re part of the group.

Complete immersion in the culture

Happy tourists sightseeing

Language is a huge part of any culture, and there’s no easier way to capture an accurate representation of another culture than being able to understand the language that comes with it. As a dynamic system, the idioms and expressions in any language are highly associated with a number of factors, such as cultural habits and context as well as historical background.

When you’re familiar with how people communicate and express themselves in their native tongue, you’ll have a deeper understanding of their way of living and customs. Visiting a country is more than just seeing all the sights; what sets apart a mere visit to a true learning experience is your understanding of the foreign culture. This is what makes the trip a truly valuable experience. You’ll get to explore places that aren’t exactly for tourists only.

Many people get easily intimidated by the idea of learning a new language simply because they think it’d be too difficult and they don’t want to feel humiliated when they make mistakes. But, when you’re traveling, you don’t necessarily have to be able to discuss profound topics; you simply need to know enough to avoid getting lost and stay out of danger.

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