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Old 11-18-2017, 06:41 AM
 
1,172 posts, read 478,714 times
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If you have any command of the country’s native language, there’s no reason not to use it. Usually, any attempt made will be appreciated even if you’re not fluent. But even knowing a few basic phrases will go a long way (hello, goodbye, yes, no, please, thank you).

It’s also a very good idea to ask if the person speaks your native language rather than just starting in with it. I can’t tell you how many times someone has thanked me for asking if they speak English rather than just assuming they do.
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Old 11-18-2017, 07:19 AM
 
Location: On the road
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Go for the low hanging fruit of hello, goodbye, thanks.

Taken past that knowing how to count is good, since you'll be buying things and it is a lot easier when the lady at the food stall says "trenta y seis" and you can hand her the money instead of resorting to playing pass the calculator or the (very unwise) act of holding out a bunch of money for her to pick from.
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Old 11-18-2017, 08:00 AM
 
Location: State Fire and Ice
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In Russia, you will find few people who can speak Spanish. In English you can. since English is one of the foreign languages ​​that are studied in Russia since the school. German and French are possible, but less. In the far east or Siberia, except English you can find people who speak Japanese. Chinese, Korean. But, in fact, a language is not an obstacle, you always have the opportunity to explain gestures.In addition, in Russian there are many international words from different languages ​​of the world
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Old 11-22-2017, 02:07 AM
 
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You'll find a lot more English speaking Russians in Moscow and St. Petersburg than out in the Russian heartland for sure. Moscow is starting to add more English to their signage and have even started playing English station announcements on the Metro. It still helps to know how to read Cyrillic which is surprisingly easy to pick up.

Russian is a pretty difficult language and it's not easy to pick up enough phrases in a short time to make a difference. However, Russian travels well and is more useful than English in the former Soviet 'stans.
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Old 11-24-2017, 06:44 PM
 
Location: Sydney Australia
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I study Italian as a hobby. It is common when people go to Italy that they come back disappointed that, at least in the main tourist areas, they had little opportunity to practice. I have had the experience, many times, of speaking in Italian and being answered in English. Even my husband, who was born there and does speak reasonable Italian, finds people will switch to English.
A lot of the basic textbooks start with situations which are out of date. eg asking for a room in a hotel. Mostly we all book online these days. Buying a train ticket, not sure but here you go to a machine. Shopping, more and more often it will be self serve in a supermarket. In restaurants the waitstaff will grunt to indicate give us the order and rarely speak in a full sentence.
I nevertheless find it handy to be able to read signs, speak some basic sentences but more so understand a little of some conversations.
But almost anywhere you can get by without the language if need be.
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Old 12-14-2017, 12:54 PM
 
Location: Albuquerque NM
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It used to be very helpful to study European languages when I started traveling decades ago but now English is so widespread. All the European tourists in Europe expect to use English and be understood wherever they go where they don't speak the local language. So it is the lingua franca now. Along with the continual Americanization of Europe it has become a less interesting place to visit for me, with McDonald's, Burger King and KFC everywhere, and Hard Rock Cafe in places like the Old Town Square in Prague. Hideous.
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Old 12-15-2017, 05:06 AM
 
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It is always good to know some basic phrases in the local language when visiting a place that one is visiting. But for a short trip there is no need to learn to speak fluently another language. One can always use a translating app on one's smartphone and for those who are old school, one can bring a hardcopy pocket dictionary with them.
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Old 12-16-2017, 04:04 PM
 
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I've found that it was helpful to know numbers in a foreign language. This way, you can say or understand how much something costs and maybe avoid being swindled. If you are visiting an upscale area or an area with educated people, you are more likely to encounter other English speakers. If you are visiting a poor area or an area with a less educated population, there are less English speakers.
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Old 12-16-2017, 04:53 PM
 
1,528 posts, read 905,802 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aries63 View Post
It used to be very helpful to study European languages when I started traveling decades ago but now English is so widespread. All the European tourists in Europe expect to use English and be understood wherever they go where they don't speak the local language. So it is the lingua franca now. Along with the continual Americanization of Europe it has become a less interesting place to visit for me, with McDonald's, Burger King and KFC everywhere, and Hard Rock Cafe in places like the Old Town Square in Prague. Hideous.
I know exactly what you mean. All these selfish Europeans claim that they need a common language to understand each other but surely they could have picked a language other than English. I mean really - don't they have any idea that Americans visiting Europe do not want to hear English everywhere? It ruins the whole experience. If they picked German or French or something else to speak as a universal language, at least then Europe would continue to appear exotic to Americans. Would that have been so hard to do?

And I couldn't agree more about McD's, BK and KFC. I mean really. Why do they allow Czechs foreign things like this. Americans visiting Prague want a more cold war-ey kind of atmosphere. Don't they understand how hard it is to get their friends to see what an exotic place they've visited when all the pics posted on facebook have a bloody McDs in the background. I mean really, can't they at least let the visiting americans have good pics without McDs ruining it? I don't think that's too much to ask. Are hamburgers for Czechs REALLY more important than good tourist pics for Americans? How selfish can these people be!
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Old 12-17-2017, 07:46 AM
 
Location: Cebu, Philippines
4,410 posts, read 1,669,820 times
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Varies a lot by region. In Latin America, it is very hard to find someone walking on the street who can speak English. In Russia or Central Asia, nearly impossible. I spent three weeks in China and met only two Chinese who could speak English, but 20 years later, I understand things have changed. French, German and Spanish are of even less use in those countries.

But in Southeast Asia and the Middle East and Africa, English is very widely spoke

Coney, I disagree about numbers. They are the last words you will need to enunciate, because unlike all other words, they can be understood everywhere in the world if they are written on your palm.
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