Have you ever had a tough time communicating while travelling to a new destination? Maybe you are a North Indian who, while on a trip to Kerala, tried to communicate with gestures, but in vain; or perhaps while on a trip to Thailand, Beijing, Tokyo or France, couldn’t get help from the locals out there in getting the right directions to a nearby mall.
Language can be a big barrier when you’re travelling to a new place. Most experienced travellers will tell you that it’s always better to be well versed with the basic words and phrases before visiting a new place where the native language is different from yours. In case you don’t have much time to learn the bigger part of the language, here are a few basic words that you must learn before travelling to any new place within or outside your country.
How much: You’re bound to shop for souvenirs or other stuff when you visit a new place. In such a case, the natives may not understand your words and gestures when you try to ask them how much money you need to pay for a particular item. It would be best for you to learn how to say ‘how much money’ or ‘how much for this’, or simply ‘how much’ to help you communicate better with the vendors in a new place.
Also read: How to read body language cues
Where is: You will never get anywhere if you didn’t ask the natives for directions. And don’t even think of getting a map as it would confuse you to no end. It’s always better to ask pedestrians for directions to any place. But how would you ask if you didn’t know the language? Look up on the internet how to say and pronounce words and phrases starting with ‘where is…’ so that you can easily take help from people regarding visiting the right places.
Left/Right: So you learnt how to ask for directions, but would you really understand what the Good Samaritan is trying to tell you? Be acquainted with basic directions and learn how to say left, right, straight, north and south in the native language of the place you plan to visit. You’ll be able to navigate through the directions easily. You may also download an offline translator app to help you read instructions on the streets.
What time: If your guide or driver asks you to be present at a particular place, how would you know when and what time are you supposed to arrive? Learn how to ask ‘What time’ or ‘When’ in the native language.
Veg/Non-veg: If you are a vegetarian, chances are you may find it difficult to locate a restaurant that serves only vegetarian food. But fret not; you can easily ask for something you like to eat by learning to say words like ‘Veg’, ‘Non veg’, and ‘vegetables’ etc.
Food: If the aforementioned words don’t work, you can always pair them with the best suffix, i.e. food! Learn how to say food in the native language and you’ll never remain hungry.
Washroom: Nature’s call can come anytime, anywhere. And if you aren’t close to your hotel, then god help you – just kidding! Unlike our country, public washrooms are very much available everywhere you go. You just need to use the right words to get there. So in order to avoid any embarrassing incident and waste time figuring out where to find a washroom, learn to say the words ‘washroom’, or ‘bathroom’ in the native language.
Water/Drink: We are really fortunate that water is available for free in our country. But in most South-East countries, you need to purchase a bottle of water to quench your thirst. Learn to say ‘drinks’ and ‘water’ in the native language to facilitate easier communication.
Once you feel comfortable with these words and phrases, you can easily break the language barrier wherever you go.