When you visit a foreign country, it would be crazy to expect everyone you meet to be able to speak your native language. Even as an English speaker, knowing the most widely spoken language in the world won’t always guarantee you a conversation. This is why being able to speak multiple languages can be extremely beneficial when you’re traveling. By understanding another language (or multiple other languages), you increase your chances of being able to speak with natives or fellow travelers. In today’s post, the Day Translations blog dives into the benefits of learning a new language for traveling.
Think about it, Chinese has more than 1 billion native speakers, French is spoken on five continents, and Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the US. Understanding just one of these opens you up to so many opportunities.
But just in case you’re not convinced that learning a new language is worth your time, here are eight benefits while traveling.
What are the Benefits of Learning a New Language for Traveling?
1. Getting Around Will Be Easier
Whether you need to get a train, tram, charter bus, or taxi, being able to speak and read the local language can make this much easier. For example, you’ll be able to read departure boards and timetables or simply ask your taxi driver for help with your baggage.
This can make your time abroad much more enjoyable, and you can feel a lot more relaxed leaving your local area and venturing further afield. And remember, you don’t have to be fluent; it’s enough to be able to speak competently or read key phrases. For more complex communication in a foreign language, you can always use remote interpreting or translation services.
2. Building a Better Understanding of the Culture
You can watch documentaries or read books, but it is only when you visit and engage with a country that you can truly experience its culture. By learning a new language, you are able to engage with more people and experiences, but you can also continue to learn and grow along the way. You’ll find that this helps you to have a more personal and spiritual experience during your trip. You’ll also be a lot safer when you understand what’s going on around you.
What’s more, you’ll be able to speak with locals and find out more about the local area or important cultural sites. You can also read information as you explore, taking in more of your surroundings and truly engaging with them. And there is no better way to immerse yourself in a new culture than conversing with locals and seeing the most important cultural spots.
3. Reducing the Risk of a Cultural Faux Pas
Following on from our last point, the more you learn about a culture, the more you begin to understand how to behave appropriately around the locals. Think about it, if you are able to feel closer to the local people and find out more about their customs, you will reduce the risk of making any cultural faux pas, even by accident.
For example, in China, it is not acceptable to wear your shoes in a sacred place, but you aren’t to know that – until it’s too late, that is. Similarly, in Singapore, you must not chew gum, and in Brazil, making a peace sign with your fingers is actually a way of flipping someone off.
Understanding the culture, but more importantly, being able to read or understand signs, can help you to avoid any potentially upsetting or offensive behavior.
4. Going Off the Beaten Track
If you’re able to communicate effectively with the local people, you can ask them for recommendations and the best things to do in the local area. They will be able to give you details of some of the lesser-known local hotpots that you might enjoy. After all, traveling is always better when you can ditch the crowds and get off the beaten track. It means you’ll see and experience more of the country than many others will.
And, as we mentioned above, if you’re more confident using transport to get to and from these areas (via taxi, bus, etc.), then you’ll open yourself up to even more wonderful opportunities along the way.
5. Eating Like a Local
If you can communicate effectively with others, not only can you find out about local hotspots, but you can also ask about the local cuisine. Often, the bars and restaurants frequented by locals offer tastier and more authentic food and drink. So, learning another language could be the difference between following the crowd or eating like a local – we know what we’d prefer!
6. Forging New Connections
When you travel, you’ll be introduced to a lot of diversity. Of course, you’ll meet local people and those that live there, but you’re also likely to come across fellow travelers from all over the world. Languages give you something in common; they give you a way of engaging and bonding with new people, and that is a huge part of what makes traveling so wonderful.
For example, if you meet a fellow traveler who doesn’t speak your native tongue and you don’t speak theirs, but you both speak German, for instance, you can still talk and form a connection.
You can build new friendships, find buddies to travel with, and build relationships with the locals. This can be particularly important if you’re planning on staying in one place for a while. After all, it’s always nice to be able to chat with your local shopkeeper or have a conversation with your landlord. All of this is made possible when you learn a new language.
7. You’ll Become More Tolerant
Nations like the Brits and Canadians are overly polite. But this means in some places, even small actions can accidentally appear rude. By understanding the language, you can be more tolerant of others. It will help you to determine what is being said, grasp the tone of voice and decide if certain interactions are just cultural differences.
It will also lead you to question your own behavior and make you think about the way you interact with others and if this can be improved.
8. Increasing Your Chances of Landing a Job
Finally, if you plan to travel around for a while, you might be thinking about getting a job to fund your travels. You might even wish to take up several jobs in different places as you travel around.
If you can speak another language, you will drastically increase your chances of being able to land a job. And not only that, but you’ll be able to get a better job than someone who is only able to speak one language. If that isn’t one of the best benefits of learning a new language for traveling, then we don’t know what is.