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Old 04-01-2016, 04:04 PM
 
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I'm amazed at Americans' lack of interest, generally.

For me, the foreign language basics are:

Hello
Good-bye
Thank you
You're welcome
Excuse me
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:44 AM
 
2,382 posts, read 4,527,550 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cida View Post
I'm amazed at Americans' lack of interest, generally.

For me, the foreign language basics are:

Hello
Good-bye
Thank you
You're welcome
Excuse me

Yep, that's my list as well. My five year old knows these in about six languages thus far. I prefer to learn a few phrases and carry a laminated "Language Map" with me (vs a phrase book).


Personally - I think it is much more important to note local customs than learn a language. I saw people I knew spend hours and hours attempting to learn languages stick their chopsticks in their food in Japan, put their feet up in Thailand, wear immodest clothing to temples, etc...
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Old 04-02-2016, 11:21 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
72,357 posts, read 84,118,548 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadb View Post
I'm a big time traveler and even if I'm going somewhere for a few days, I at least learn the basics of the local language. Things like:

How to say hello
How to order food
How to say my name and ask for yours

Easy stuff. But this thread is really about people who go to a place numerous times and still don't speak any of the language.

There are people who actually live in a country and still don't speak the native language. In America, it's annoying. In other countries, it's annoying too.

What's the deal?

Topic inspired by this article: The Biggest Mistake Made By Visitors Going To Brazil
good for you but most of us are not going to take the time to learn a language for a few days. ok, maybe hello, but even then, a gesture can say the same thing. I am referring to those who are visiting for only a few days, not people staying for weeks or returning often.
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Old 04-03-2016, 10:11 PM
 
Location: Bay View, Milwaukee
2,204 posts, read 4,223,550 times
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I agree that it's helpful and engaging to be able to say at least a few key phrases in a country's main language(s), and I try to do so as much as I can. But there are times when it just doesn't happen. A few years ago, for example, I had a professional conference in Croatia: I learned "hello," thank you," and "goodbye" while there, but I was too involved in the conference (official language was English) to have time to learn more before or during my trip. After the conference, several of us went on a tour together, and the need to speak Croatian really didn't emerge. Many of us speak other languages besides English, so we spoke whatever we needed to in order to get by adequately: English, Italian, French, Spanish, German, etc. Somehow we all did okay.

A lot of people are curious about the world and want to engage directly with other cultures, but have a difficult time with other languages, even simple phrases. My husband usually travels with me to global conferences and relies on me to do the language stuff: he's partly deaf and cannot hear much of anything too well, and all his life has had a terrible time with tone, inflection, and other aspects of music/language. I'd hate for him to have to limit his travels just because he cannot communicate in different languages; I don't mind translating and interpreting for him.
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Old 04-04-2016, 07:45 PM
 
Location: On the road
6,106 posts, read 2,968,027 times
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Meh, learn the local language if that sort of thing interests you, but I sure don't see it as a requirement to enjoy yourself and have a rewarding travel experience. What is funny is that list of common things to know how to say hello thanks etc. just about every local you interact with will know them even if they don't really speak English.

I believe if you want to learn a few things the most useful would be:
- Counting to 10,000. Easier than it sounds since usually only need to learn 12-15 words, also solved with calculator
- Finding a bathroom. The word "toilet" usually works no matter where in the world you are.
- Where is xyz. Being able to add name of tourist attraction, city, hotel etc. to "where is"

There are other words like toilet that are fairly universal. Taxi, hotel, etc.
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Old 04-07-2016, 09:23 PM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
56,725 posts, read 55,076,187 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billl View Post
As an example, the French appreciate when any foreigner starts in their language. Even just saying "bonjour" before switching to English is generally greeted with a positive reaction.
Yes, and saying "bonjour" or "bon soir" is considered the most basic of good manners when starting a conversation in France. I found people responsive to that.

I did try to learn the phrase "I don't speak French" in French, but when I tried to use it at a pharmacy in Paris, the man behind the counter started laughing and repeated it back to me correctly.

Learning to say "Thank you" in the language where you are going goes a long way, too.
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Old 04-07-2016, 09:26 PM
 
35,108 posts, read 40,534,398 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadb View Post
I'm a big time traveler and even if I'm going somewhere for a few days, I at least learn the basics of the local language. Things like:
How to say hello
How to order food
How to say my name and ask for yours
Easy stuff. But this thread is really about people who go to a place numerous times and still don't speak any of the language.
There are people who actually live in a country and still don't speak the native language. In America, it's annoying. In other countries, it's annoying too.
What's the deal?
Topic inspired by this article: The Biggest Mistake Made By Visitors Going To Brazil
I would venture to guess it is the same reason immigrants move to the USA and don't learn the basics of English because it is not required and they do not want to.
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Old 04-08-2016, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Silver Spring, MD
1,300 posts, read 1,106,188 times
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With the increase in smartphone ownership, international travelers should have a few apps on their smartphones that will help them with basic phrases and translations. Google translate will live translate text for you so that you are able to read signs and things like menus just by looking though them on your phone, it will also do things like let you speak what you want to say in English, translate and speak the phrase back in the selected language. Then there is Duolingo which will teach you a language and basic phrases and unlike Rosetta Stone it is free. It has gotten good reviews and it is very user friendly, you can use it both on your computer and your phone. Even if you don't use a smart phone in your daily life it will well be worth getting an inexpensive model for travel that you can put an local sim when you arrive to your destination. You can easily get phones like androids or iphones that are only a generation or two old which would easily run most apps for at most a few hundred dollars on sites like Amazon or Groupon
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Old 04-09-2016, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
56,725 posts, read 55,076,187 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cida View Post
I'm amazed at Americans' lack of interest, generally.

For me, the foreign language basics are:

Hello
Good-bye
Thank you
You're welcome
Excuse me
I know. It's FUN to learn these words and phrases in other languages. Why wouldn't you want to try if you are going somewhere that another language is spoken?

In addition to the suggestions you gave above, I once read that everyone should learn to say, "and I apologize for murdering your language" lol.
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Old 04-09-2016, 09:36 AM
 
14,188 posts, read 7,586,342 times
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I've traveled all over the world. I'm French fluent. I have a few hundred words of survival German. I have a bit smaller Spanish survival vocabulary. I know some Portuguese and Italian words and can try the English, French, and Spanish words and usually make myself understood. For Europe, I'm fine. In South America, I'm fine. In Asia, it's hopeless. I work for a Korean company. If it weren't for copy+paste into Google Translate, I'd be lost. I used to work for a Taiwanese company. Same thing. I can handle languages with the Roman alphabet but Asian squiggles are beyond me. It's really hard for me to remember words when I don't have them written out phonetically. With Roman alphabet languages, I get the spoken language re-enforced by reading.
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