Travelling overseas means a whole range of new experiences. There’s different cultures, fresh and exciting food, meeting new people and creating memories that will last a lifetime. If you’ve already travelled abroad, you’ve probably already tried to communicate but felt that sometimes the wires got crossed. A new language is hard to learn in a short amount of time, but there are a few things you can do to make your adventure less stressful. Here are a few tips on how to break though the communication barrier while visiting a country who speaks a different language.
Imagine trying to ask somewhere where the nearest bathroom is, you can’t exactly rely on body language for that. This is where a phrase book will come in handy; it is an invaluable tool that will assist you with the most basic of expressions. You might feel a bit silly using them in another country especially if it’s not perfect, but the natives will appreciate that you are trying to communicate with them and will be more patient. Most phrase books also come in pocket sizes so that you can carry it with you at all times.
Observe and use body language
Most communication experts will tell you that 80% of communication is non-verbal. Observe the way that the people of the country interact with each other. How do they greet their friends or strangers? What about personal space? Or what are their mannerisms? While you shouldn’t copy everything they do, a good rule of thumb is to observe, respect and emulate.
Invest in a map
Maps on your phone aren’t always the most reliable and can be often hard to understand. Invest in a map from the local tourist centre and study the locations you would like to visit. It will take the stress out of getting from A to B in one piece.
Download translation apps
The magic of technology. Apps are a fantastic tool when basic phrases aren’t cutting the mustard. For example, I used to work at an airport where more often than not, tourists got lost or confused, most of them could not speak a word of English. This is where Google translate did wonders. It broke down the communication barriers and we were able to talk freely (in a basic way of course) about the problem they had. When using apps like Google translate or iTranslate Voice, it does rack up data usage which could be costly when you get your monthly bill. If you feel you can’t survive without data or making phone calls while overseas, look at investing in an international SIM card like TravelSIM which will give you a package deal and a heavily reduced rate.
You are at a disadvantage when you cannot speak another language, so being polite and remembering to smile are key ways to ensure that have a better stay in the country you are visiting.
How do you break through the language barriers while travelling?