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View Poll Results: How important is English when you travel as a tourist?
Extremely importat 5 11.90%
Important 10 23.81%
Somewhat important 11 26.19%
Not important 16 38.10%
Voters: 42. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
Old 04-03-2014, 09:39 PM
 
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Just wondering, I read a lot of hotel, airline and restaurant reviews, and people often criticize the English language skills of the staff. Even here in C-D, people often say, you should go to this place instead because they speak more English there. I understand it can be frustrating especially if one needs to communicate a lot of things. Perhaps I may just be an easier-going traveler, but I never needed to discuss a lot of things with the hotel staff or the flight attendant. I never had any experience with a hotel or airline wherein no one speaks enough English to understand what is needed when I switch to simpler English and speak slowly instead. At a few restaurants where no English was spoken, we did understand each other using various methods but never had experience wherein something really bad happened due to the staff not able to speak English well. What kind of problems have you experienced due to bad English skills while traveling as a tourist?

For the poll:

Extremely important: will not go inside a restaurant if someone does not speak impeccable English
Important: will go inside a restaurant as long as there is an English menu
Somewhat important: will go inside a restaurant as long as they have photos on the menu
Not important: will go inside a restaurant even if I will have to read the menu without photos in a language I cannot understand
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:46 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
20,571 posts, read 25,628,850 times
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Maybe it's just me but it's such a weird preoccupation to have for a person who willingly travels to foreign countries.

Of course, I am not monolingual and can speak three languages and get by in two more.

If in a big tourist destination area, not having a menu in English might be a good reason for me to actually choose a restaurant, as it could mean it's more authentic and less of a tourist trap.
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:39 PM
 
Location: Hong Kong / Vienna
4,557 posts, read 4,816,848 times
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Depends on the circumstances. In most European countries I don't really have a problem, if waiters in restaurants don't speak English. I know enough French, Italian, Swedish and Spanish culinary terms to have a vague idea of what I'm eating in those countries and when visiting our "Eastern" neighbors chances are that their German is better than their English.

It gets trickier when you can't read the script the language is written in. Frustrating when people are not cooperative. Still not that bad in smaller establishments in China and Korea since the restaurants only have a very limited menu anyway.

Last edited by viribusunitis; 04-04-2014 at 12:00 AM..
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:42 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Well I've been to restaurants where the staff did not speak English and nothing on the menu was in English. It helps a lot if there's pics (although you can't always be sure that what looks like beef really is beef). I've been to countries where hardly anyone speaks English, and it doesn't stop me from visiting. English is still the most advantageous language to have when travelling, I pity those who can only speak Japanese or French (who are usually restricted to travelling in tour groups), let alone the more obscure languages.
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:53 PM
 
Location: Next stop Antarctica
1,797 posts, read 2,333,737 times
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It does help sometimes, but not that important, it is more fun trying to understand and trying to be understood. Sometimes people want to try their English language skills out. I found in Indonesia last year lot of tour guides learning Japanese.
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Old 04-04-2014, 12:01 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
9,783 posts, read 15,333,888 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cushla View Post
It does help sometimes, but not that important, it is more fun trying to understand and trying to be understood. Sometimes people want to try their English language skills out. I found in Indonesia last year lot of tour guides learning Japanese.
Yeah sometimes the challenge of communicating using body language, pointing and other non-verbal cues is half the fun! lol

Yeah being a speaker of French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese is probably a lot better than only speaking say Vietnamese or something if you want to travel, but it's still not as useful as English of course.
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Old 04-04-2014, 04:44 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
20,571 posts, read 25,628,850 times
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I have known people who speak only one European language (mostly French, but also Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese and even Dutch), and travelling knowing only those is not as bad as you think. They all have some commonalities with English or some other European language that people you meet might know, so things can usually be figured out.

Even when you speak English, if you travel a lot you are going to run into situations every once in a while where you have to deal with someone who does not speak it and you don't have anyone nearby to help you out.

Depending on the language or languages you speak, you simply have more or less of these situations. But even with English you will still face them sometimes.
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:04 AM
 
695 posts, read 692,767 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
Maybe it's just me but it's such a weird preoccupation to have for a person who willingly travels to foreign countries.

Of course, I am not monolingual and can speak three languages and get by in two more.

If in a big tourist destination area, not having a menu in English might be a good reason for me to actually choose a restaurant, as it could mean it's more authentic and less of a tourist trap.
Exactly. The main reason I'd want to see another country would be to experience THEIR culture, and having them cater to me in English simply doesn't do it.

One thing I never understood was Anglophone people who saw fit to criticise people in non-Anglophone countries for not speaking English. If you're in their country, why not make an effort to learn THEIR language?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
Well I've been to restaurants where the staff did not speak English and nothing on the menu was in English. It helps a lot if there's pics (although you can't always be sure that what looks like beef really is beef). I've been to countries where hardly anyone speaks English, and it doesn't stop me from visiting. English is still the most advantageous language to have when travelling, I pity those who can only speak Japanese or French (who are usually restricted to travelling in tour groups), let alone the more obscure languages.

LOL.

You know you can get by fairly well without speaking English, right? Aside from that, the utility of English is very contextual anyway...if I was travelling through Morocco, Lebanon or West Africa French would be far more useful as a second language, in Eastern Europe it would be German or Russian, etc.

Anglophones are funny.
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:07 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
9,783 posts, read 15,333,888 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lexdiamondz1902 View Post
Exactly. The main reason I'd want to see another country would be to experience THEIR culture, and having them cater to me in English simply doesn't do it.

One thing I never understood was Anglophone people who saw fit to criticise people in non-Anglophone countries for not speaking English. If you're in their country, why not make an effort to learn THEIR language?
I've never met anyone who criticised others for not speaking English. Perhaps they're the more cosseted types who tend to think Paris is a huge cultural shock (although it still can be different for sure).
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:35 AM
 
30,325 posts, read 31,191,100 times
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When going to a foreign country as a tourist, one can't expect the locals to speak English although it is helpful if they do. But one shouldn't plan their sightseeing trips based on language alone.
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