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How to Overcome Language Barriers While Traveling

A brief guide to travel to places where people don’t speak your language.

When you’re traveling, communication plays an essential role in how you experience everything that happens. If you’re in a foreign country with no knowledge of the native language and no way to communicate, you’ll have far less fun than if you’re able to talk to locals.

Learning an entirely new language because you’re visiting a place that doesn’t have English as a common language isn’t necessary if you have ways of communicating beyond language. In this article, Lingomee.com will give you advice on how to overcome language barriers no matter where you’re traveling or how many of the local languages you know. 

Know the Basics

You need to know at least a few basic words and phrases used most commonly in the country you’re visiting. Words like ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, ‘where is the toilet’, and so on are what you should know. If you have a medical condition, knowing how to talk about it is important as well.

Learn on the Go

You should consider downloading a reliable language app and learning as you travel. Apps like Duolingo that are free can come in useful when you’re trying to communicate with locals.

Invest in a Language Dictionary

A dictionary can also be helpful to improve your vocabulary and help you communicate with the people around you while you travel. Having a physical book can be fun, but you can also buy a digital one if that’s what you prefer.

Use Technology

Don’t be afraid to use technology to help you overcome language barriers while you’re traveling. You can use online tools like Voice Translator, iTranslate, or Google Translate. Although these tools aren’t to be relied on for language learning, they can help you talk to people in their native language in a pinch.

Use Stationary

Something as simple as stationary can help you jump over language-related hurdles. If you’re in an area where there isn’t any WiFi or you don’t have your dictionary, you can use a pen and paper to try and communicate. 

Write the name of the restaurant you need, or note down the address you’re searching for and locals will likely point you in the right direction. Draw an image of the place you want to visit, the food you’re looking for, or the item you want to buy. Buy pens, pencils, and notebooks that are cute or pretty so you can take them home and have personalized mementos of your time abroad.

Consider Non-verbal Differences

Be mindful of non-verbal differences in the country you’re visiting to avoid confusion and offending anyone. You should be aware of the importance of hand gestures, facial expressions, and personal space as this can vary vastly from one country to the next.

Have Fun and Take It in Your Stride

Visiting a place where most people don’t speak your native language can be a bit scary, but as long as you use the advice we shared here, you should be just fine. The most important thing is that you try to communicate in simple terms and have fun while traveling. The point of traveling is to enjoy yourself, so make sure you do!


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Filed under: Travel Guide

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