5 Reasons to learn a foreign language when you travel

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Being a language lover myself, I find almost any excuse good enough for starting to learn even a few phrases in a new, foreign language. Whether it’s communicating with friends and family or understanding art and music – the list can go on. Nevertheless, the unequivocally best reason for me to start learning new languages are my travels. Being able to speak a foreign language in a country you’re visiting can bring a number of exciting situations and great benefits. Visiting a place you have never seen before can be extremely captivating, and what better way of immersing yourself fully than with a language skill in-hand?

Picking new lingo doesn’t have to be difficult, either. Personally, I only spend about an hour a day for the last two weeks before my travels. Surely, this doesn’t allow me to speak the language fluently or apply for a job at a translation agency, nevertheless, it’s just about enough to pick up the most important phrases and words, which allow me to communicate in a foreign language.

While abroad, there is a number of different reasons and situation where your language skill can come in handy. Here are 5 reasons why learning a new language before visiting a foreign country is a great idea!

  1. To fully understand the culture

A country’s culture extends much further beyond its history or cuisine. To fully understand a foreign country, you must understand its people. Language has a direct influence on the way people in different countries behave, speak and act towards one another or follow their customs. A great example of this could be Italian. In Italy, especially the southern parts, a person does not simply speak a language with their mouth, but in fact, their entire body. Body language and spoken word go hand in hand here, creating an inseparable pair. By understanding such language nuances and differences, you’ll be able to understand the country’s culture in much more depth.

  1. Meet new people

Although many people still don’t believe this, (brace yourself) …not everyone in the world is able to speak English! I know, crazy, right?! Either way, being able to speak the language of a country you are visiting will allow you to meet and speak with people you might have otherwise not be able to communicate with. Additionally, this will show your respect to the country and people and therefore make you more approachable!

  1. Explore the unexplored

Sure, following a well-known route and taking the exact same picture everyone else takes can be fun…but creating your own routes is ever better! Exploring places, restaurants, markets or forgotten hiking trails only known by the locals can be very rewarding. Being able to speak with the locals in their native language will allow you to ask them about any of those hidden gems!

  1. Emergency

Although this is something nobody wants to think about, especially during their holiday, emergency situations can happen and visiting a local hospital or police station may be a necessity. In such circumstances, it is extremely important to be able to fully explain what happened exactly, any allergies you might have or medicines you are currently taking.  This will allow the doctors or police officers to provide you with the most suitable help and make sure you are safe.

  1. Fall in love with the language

Leaning a language from books, films or even group classes is one thing, but being able to test your language skills by speaking to its native speakers in their home country is on a completely different level. Accents, dialects or even an informal tone can make a huge difference to one’s understanding of a language. By speaking with different native speakers you’ll be able to fully test your skills and absorb the language even faster.

As you can see, there is a number of different reasons why you should learn a language before your travels. Certainly, you do not need to be able to speak fluently, but even a basic understanding of the lingo can be extremely beneficial. Can you think of any other good reasons to learn a language prior to visiting a foreign country? Let us know in the comments!