When it comes to travel advice, much has been said on language barriers but nowhere is this more apparent that in Europe where thousands of dialects can be spoke within a few kilometres; it’s all quite involved keeping your head straight as you navigate yourself. However there are a few key bits of advice that make travel in Europe that little bit more straight forward and using my experience I have compiled a list especially to help you out in this respect.
Photo Credit: Amie Rochelle
While your speech should never come across as being condescending, it’s important to remember that someone who may not speak English properly isn’t going to take offence to you speaking slowly or deliberately; the one consideration to remember when avoiding rudeness is that volume is not a factor in mistranslation so shouting louder isn’t going to get you anywhere. Choose your words wisely, keeping them simple, clear and slowly steady. Do not get frustrated by failure, continue to try but please do mix it up; saying the same thing three times is obviously not helping so my travel advice is to quit and find a home office for information.
Photo Credit: Matt Harris
You may not realise how much English slang you use because it comes so naturally to you but slang can play a major role in miscommunication so try your best to cut this out altogether. If you’re going to ask for weather advice as you travel, things as simple as ‘raining cats and dogs’ can be construed in comical fashion.
Be Goofy, Exaggerate
There is a fallacy that exaggeration of an accent is disrespectful but I’ve actually discovered the opposite is true. If you’re in Spain and have the ability to put on a Spanish accent, lay it on thick; I found that it was not only a humorous ice-breaker but it also made making out the English a little easier for the receiver. You’re not going to find this travel advice on many websites but sometimes it pays to be goofy and not take yourself too seriously; you’ll break more cultural barriers this way as well as make new friends – for those that take insult, just move on and try again.
Notepads and Instinct
Body language and instinct can play a useful role when it comes to making educated guesses; sometimes you’ll pick up on communication seemingly telepathically and you should for the most part trust this. You’re not in the UK anymore so my travel advice to you is to bring a notepad and make notes as often as possible; the notepad will note only be an awesome souvenir to look back on but provide immeasurable value. With these nuggets of travel advice, you’ve got yourself a decent boost so that you can launch over that language barrier with ease.
Currently residing at the Mellieha Bay Hotel, Eugene Calvini is a travel writer who enjoys sharing useful advice and guidance for international travellers.