Traveling overseas is one of the most exciting experiences one can have. It’s a great way to explore the world, meet new people, and explore and learn about other cultures. Traveling is also a way to become exposed to other languages.
Not all travelers learn the language of a certain country before visiting it. To a certain extent, this is understandable. If someone’s only spending a few days in that country as a vacation, is spending a lot of time learning a language worth it? Besides, English is the third most spoken language in the world.
But tourists can’t and shouldn’t assume that wherever they go, locals will know how to speak English. The reality is, some probably don’t. And that’s not their fault.
You may be inclined to travel overseas after the pandemic. And when you do, you need to learn the language spoken in the country you want to visit.
Learning the Language
You don’t have to be fluent in a foreign language before you travel. At the very least, you need to know the basics, such as greetings, saying “thank you,” and asking and understanding directions.
Before you travel, you’re likely to do some research on your destination. You’ll check which places to go to. You’ll also check popular and lifestyle-healthy foods you must try. When you do your research, include the language. There are many resources online. You can watch videos to hear the proper pronunciation of words as well.
Learning even just the basics of a language before you travel overseas can benefit you in many ways.
Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language
When you visit a country for the first time, you may get lost, especially on the first day. It’s one of the most common problems when traveling. Say you travel to a non-English-speaking country and don’t know the language. You are likely to have a hard time finding someone to help you with directions. If you ask questions in English, locals may be hesitant to answer.
You won’t have the same problem if you know the language. Locals are more likely to help you out if they can speak in their mother tongue.
Make New Friends More Easily
When you travel, you’ll meet new people and may even be lucky to make new friends. Having a local friend can be very helpful since they can better introduce their country to you. You also have someone to help you go around or make recommendations so that you can have a better vacation.
But sometimes, locals may not be too open about being friends when there’s a language barrier. And this is where knowing the language can be very helpful. It can enable you to connect and socialize more easily with the locals.
Get Warmer Welcome from Locals
Locals will appreciate that you’ve done your research on their language. Even if you could only say and understand some words, it’s enough for them to warm up to you more easily. You’ll get better reception when you go around markets and buy souvenirs and other things. You’re also less likely to get ripped off since vendors get the impression that you’ll find them out if they do.
Appreciate the Culture More
Knowing a foreign language can make you appreciate another country’s culture more. When you learn a foreign language, you’ll inevitably learn bits about culture as well.
For example, when you learn Korean, you’ll learn that seniority is highly valued in their society since it’s reflected in the language. In the U.S., you can refer to someone older than by their name. This is not the case in Korea. Depending on the age difference and relationship, there are different ways to refer to and speak to someone older.
This example also illustrates that knowing the language will help you better demonstrate and express your respect for a country and its culture.
Other Long-term Benefits
Apart from having a better travel experience, learning a language does have long-term benefits in your life. For one, learning a foreign language can help you reduce your risk of mental disorders. There is some evidence that learning languages can delay the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Knowing more than one language can also generally benefit your social life. You’ll be able to connect with more people and have something interesting to talk about.
After the pandemic, traveling will hopefully no longer be restricted. When you decide to travel overseas, make sure that you include learning the language when you prepare for your journey.