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5 Countries where you should learn some of the language before you visit

It always helps to break the ice if you can speak at least a little of the language spoken in a foreign country. People are inclined to look favourably on those who at least make an attempt to communicate in their language. China China has the largest population in the world, an estimated 1,388,232,693 as [...]

It always helps to break the ice if you can speak at least a little of the language spoken in a foreign country. People are inclined to look favourably on those who at least make an attempt to communicate in their language.

China

China has the largest population in the world, an estimated 1,388,232,693 as of June 2017. Mandarin is the official language, but 400 million people can’t use the language to communicate. Imagine the difficulties a monolingual English speaker would face there. Sign language, body language and facial expressions might ease the communication problems to a certain extent, of course.

If you venture into the countryside, away from major cities, you would be unlikely to find someone with whom you could communicate in English. Given it size, it is not surprising that many languages and dialects are spoken there. So which one would be most useful for a visitor to learn? Luckily, there are several apps that can facilitate the learning of Mandarin, you have to choose the one that most helps you with the language. Things are changing slowly, however, as in the last few years more and more young Chinese are learning English, either in schools or online.

Of course, you can find professional translators and interpreters to help smooth your way, if you are in a city such as the capital, Beijing.

Gambia

In 2014 the Gambia decided that English should be dropped as an official language mainly because President Yahya Jammeh, believed that it was a relic of his country’s colonial past. A traveller would do well to learn Mandingo, Fula or Wolof, also spoken widely in neighbouring Senegal.
Countries that were part of the British colonies are, to some extent rebelling against their colonial past. Of course, not all feel the same way about the use of English, so if you travel to Gambia, you should be able to find some people who speak English. Whether they will, of course, for political reasons, is a different matter.

Yemen

Not that you should be travelling there, espectially not for a holiday, but if you did Yemen is another country where a traveller could have language difficulties and be forced to buy a professional Translator. The major language spoken there is Yemeni Arabic. However, if you know standard Arabic, or have an app to help with it, this will ease communication. The Socotri language is widely spoken on Socotra Island and the Archipelago surrounding it. Another indigenous language is Mahri which is also widely spoken in eastern Yemen.

Spain

If you are a teacher of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and also speak Castilian or Andalusian, then you might consider getting a teaching job in Spain. It’s been estimated that only 11.7 per cent of Spaniards speak English. You may be surprised at this if you have been on holiday to the Costas, but go further inland, and you will probably need an app or an interpreter to help. Castilian is spoken in northern and central Spain, and this is the standard language used by the media. Andalusian and Basque are also used for communication. If you learn Castilian, you can also make yourself understood by Italians.

Colombia

Doesn’t have many fluent English-speakers. Even English language teachers there can’t speak English to B2, or intermediate level. You would need to have at least some words of Spanish to get along in Colombia. If you need an app try the one from Duolingo. Of course, you can always hire an interpreter or translator, depending on your needs.

Maybe you were not good at languages at school, or perhaps you were told that you weren’t. However, everyone benefits from learning another language. Why not try and learn one and reap the many benefits it affords?

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