Having Fun Communicating While Travelling
If you find it difficult or almost impossible to break the language barrier while travelling in Europe, just be cool about it. You can still have fun communicating with locals even if you only have a few commonly used phrases to throw at each other. Just remember these tips:
- It’s ok to look goofy. That is, if you want to get your message across to the other person. Because when you’re already hungry and you don’t know how to politely tell the waitress to hurry up, just clutch your stomach and growl. For example, the liquor is too strong for your liking, you can hold out both of your hands over your head signalling something like an atomic explosion.
- Exaggerate the native accent. It won’t offend the locals. Au contraire, they would be delighted to hear you do that or even impressed. Work your sexy French accent or a melodramatic yet exuberant Italian accent, whenever it is applicable. Don’t be self-conscious. Just be uninhibited and you’ll be comfortable with it soon enough.
- Use common sense. Just be observant about the root words so you can decipher its equivalent meaning in English. The German word for sun is ‘sonne’ so Sunday is ‘Sonntag’. ‘Comprender’, ‘mucho’ and ‘delicioso are comprehend, much and delicious, respectively. You get the point…
- Be eager to learn. Read signs and schedules, listen to passers-by as then converse or you can even read graffiti public bathrooms.
- Take down notes. Do not underestimate its power to help you recall words, numbers, phrases and familiar statements you should use in different situations. Moreover, you should have at least written down important explanations about your specific circumstance – “I’m a strict vegetarian”, “on a strict travel budget”, and so on – in the local language on your notepad so you can remember it even if you mispronounce it.
- Strive to make an educated guess. Most of the time, you just have to observe the context of the situation, especially body language and facial expression, and assume you understand what the other person is telling you. If he or she nods to signal that you understood what he or she is saying, then just proceed confidently with the conversation. Even if you were wrong, as long as it does not cost you your passport or safety, then your trip would be far more interesting than you ever planned it to be.