If you’re heading to a country where you don’t speak the language for your honeymoon and are concerned about how you’re going to get around – or even order food, find a bathroom or, inevitably, ask for directions, don’t be. Here are five things any traveller can do to ensure quick and effective communications with the locals.
Use Google Translate
One of the most popular translation apps out there is Google Translate. With more than 50 languages to choose from, you can use this app to translate both the written and spoken word, often, simply through your mobile phone’s microphone.
Or, you can simply type what you need to say into the app, hit translate, then show a local what you are wanting to say – all in their own tongue.
Plus the app is absolutely free and is available for most mobile devices as well as the web.
Learn simple phrases you’re guaranteed to need
A super easy way to start a conversation is by memorising a few basic phrases such as ‘hello,’ ‘goodbye,’ ‘nice to meet you,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘how much does that cost?’
Not only does this show locals that you’ve taken an interest in their language, it can be a fantastic and endearing way to break the ice with a local.
Oh, and don’t forget to learn how to ask where the bathroom is!
Another awesome app to download is SpeakEasy. This app is more of a phrase or pocketbook dictionary and includes essential phrases that are categorised into topics like meeting people, eating, transportation, sightseeing, shopping, emergencies, hotel, and money.
Each phrase includes a translation, which includes a phonetic translation and audio recording. The app costs US$2.99.
Download photos of the places you want to visit
Download images of tourist attractions, things you want to buy – or even the local Maccas – to your phone (or carry printouts of the images in a small pocket book) and you’ll never get lost. Photos bridge the language barrier and will help you get what you want when you want it quicker.
Other photos to download are a toilet, beach, a local 7/11 (or similar convenience store), and a petrol station.
Point, nod and smile
Using your body as a way to communicate in another language, barring, of course, the ability speak it!
A simple head nod for “yes, I understand” or “no, I don’t”, or a frown when you are confused says a lot more than using words or photos.
A friendly, understanding smile also goes a long way and can mean anything from “nice to meet you” to “thank you”.
For directions, the simplest way to understanding them is by pointing. If you want to go left, point left. If you want to go right, point right, or to say stop, just hold up your hands with your palms facing away from you.
Don’t be surprised if, occasionally, your actions turn into an impromptu game of Charades – until they finally understand what you are trying to say.