In our last article, Alison noted how lazy we Brits are when it comes to preparing our Language knowledge when travelling abroad. From my own experience I’ve seen just how extensive this can be and I’m guilty as charged.
In both 2011 and 2012 I travelled to Tokyo for a combined total of 5 weeks. As a generally reserved chap I wanted to try and make sure that I could be polite and avoid any basic cultural faux pas. So I learnt how to say “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me” & gave myself a crash course in Japanese numeracy and most important of all, ensured I could order a beer. A bit of light reading from a guide book and off I went.
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It’s not exactly news that most travellers from the UK don’t bother to learn the local languages of the places they visit. A 2011 study by travel agency Sheila’s Wheels found that “51 percent of British travellers said they “rarely” took the time to learn how to say anything in the local language before taking off.”
Of course, it’s unrealistic to expect to become fluent- but memorizing at least some key words and phrases tends to make life easier for you and earns goodwill from the locals.
If you can’t speak a word of the local language, how do you expect to be able to communicate? The results of a new survey from online interpreting firm i-interpret4u show the typical methods many Brits use to communicate across cultures. According to a write-up on Travel Daily News, one-third of respondents reported using one or more of the following methods to communicate:
- Making hand gestures.
- Speaking more loudly and slowly. (Note: It’s not that they can’t hear you, it’s that they can’t understand.)
- Smiling and pretending to understand. [click to continue…]