Updated: Aug 23
Do you feel apprehensive when traveling to a place where the language spoken is different from yours? In some destinations, you can get by speaking in English, but although the locals will be welcoming and helpful, think how much more enriching your travel will be if you can converse with the locals in their own language!
It’s something to think about, whether you are an employee, a job hunter or student. But for the meantime, let us talk about learning a language if you love to travel and the benefits you will derive from adding a new language to your list of acquired skills.
1. Interaction with locals
If you do not know the local language, you are curtailed in meeting the locals and forming true friendships. If you only speak English, you’ll tend to seek other travelers who speak English as well. If you are in a group with other nationalities, they might try to include you in their group and converse with you, but this will be a rare occasion. You’ll have to accept the fact that it’s going to be frustrating because it would be difficult to understand one another. Likewise, they will soon get bored because the exercise will be futile.
2. Experience openness
If you know the local language, it is easier to know other people. Put yourself in their shoes. If they do not know your language, they will be bothered thinking about what words to say, worrying about grammar and how to fully express themselves naturally.
It’s like this. It becomes natural for you to talk much more, explain things in detail and be more expressive when you talk to someone who speaks your language. It’s because you know that the person you are talking to can quickly understand what you are saying. If you are able to speak the local language, the communication is faster and easier.
3. You build trust
When you know how to speak the local language, people are more likely to trust you. As most travelers say, local residents feel that they are closer to a visitor who knows their language because they feel that you are also a native instead of a foreigner who expects other people to understand them. Locals are very appreciative of foreign visitors who try to learn their language.
4. Understand local culture better
The world is a fascinating place and travel will allow you to see and encounter different cuisine, rituals and traditions. They will definitely change the way you think about other cultures. You’ll become aware of the differences in the way things are done and how other people spend their day. It is something that you should experience firsthand.
You can join local festivals and fully understand why they are celebrating it, instead of just joining the celebration for fun. You’ll enjoy local cuisine because you understand the history of their food and how the dishes are prepared
5. Find your way around Learning the local language helps you find your way around the city. If you get confused, it is easier to seek help. Knowledge in speaking, reading and writing in another language makes you adapt to your local surroundings better. You are able to read signs, warnings, labels and directions. Even if you get lost, it is easier to get back to your original itinerary because you’re able to get help. You do not have to look for someone who speaks your language to ask for the right directions.
6. You gain independence If you cannot speak the local language, your itinerary would only include going to all the usual tourist attractions. Of course, you can hire a car for a city tour, but it can be expensive and oftentimes, you can only spend a few minutes on each destination. When you speak the language, imagine the fun you’ll have because you can safely tour the city and even venture to the city’s outskirts to discover places that may not be included in your regular itinerary. Maybe you’ll find a local artist’s shop or a bookstore that carries things you’ve always wanted to buy. There may be a café serving some of the tastiest local delicacies or a bakery selling bread you’ve never had before. Just think of the myriad of things you can see and discover just because you speak the local language and can roam the city freely. Best of all, you can linger until you’re fully satisfied. 7. Gain respect Generally, locals respect and admire visitors who try to learn their language. It makes them feel that they are important to the visitors. They are more likely to open up to you, share local knowledge, show you places where you can shop at lower prices or find bargains. If not, it is going to be easier to negotiate prices using the local language than speaking in your own tongue. Try it. Visit a store, haggle over the price in English and see if you can get a discount. Visit another store selling the same item and this time speak in the local language and see the final price difference. They may even try to help you with their language, to make you sound like a local. You form friendships and get encouragement and praise. And do you know one essential benefit of learning the local language? You can avoid being scammed by people who think foreigners are easy targets. In the event that you get hurt, speaking the language will allow you to explain the situation better to the local authorities. Learning a new language is challenging. But if you are ready to explore new destinations, connect with locals better and understand their culture deeper, then do not just think about taking language lessons. Do it! Choose a language that is closer to your own language so it will be easier for you to learn. Pick a destination where the language you are learning is spoken and prepare yourself for a more exciting adventure.