Welcome to EUROCENTRES blog

4 Things to Do When You Don’t Know the Local Language

Being familiar with the local language – even a smattering – can be a huge help when you’re travelling abroad.

But what do you do when you don’t know a single word?

Whether you’re travelling somewhere unfamiliar for work – or want to experience a new adventure on a holiday – going somewhere where you don’t know any of the local language can seem daunting at first!

But with a few handy tips, you’ll soon ease your way in. Read on for some great pointers to help you out!

  1. Be friendly

A smile can go a long way – especially if you’re somewhere new and unfamiliar. Even if you’re feeling a little anxious or worried about not understanding things, relax and be positive!

Greet people with a smile, and they’ll be much more willing to help you out. Try to pay attention to local body language customs and gestures too – just like spoken languages, these can vary across the world. Watch the people around you for subtle cues, and you’ll soon pick them up.

  1. Carry a cheat sheet

A cheat sheet is one of the most useful little things you could have when you’re travelling!

A sheet – or more than one – containing some of the useful words and phrases you might need to use, along with how to pronounce them – will come in handy in a tight spot.

It’s a good idea to do a few different cheat sheets, perhaps one for different situations. For example, you could do a general cheat sheet with things like how to ask for directions, greeting someone and asking their name, or a food-themed sheet, with things like common food descriptions, how to ask for a menu or names of fruits.

If the country you are travelling to uses different language symbols, then it’s also handy to have a sheet with the characters for useful names or services written down or photocopied – such as hospital, police, doctor or supermarket.

  1. Ask for help

It might seem a bit intimidating at first to ask for help and show how little you know, but do it politely, and people will be more than willing to help you out!

Try adding a couple of simple phrases to your repertoire – such as asking people if they speak another language, to repeat what they said slowly, or simply, “I don’t speak much…”

  1. Eat and shop locally

It’s very tempting to stick to what’s familiar when you’re somewhere new – and you’re more than likely to find the same globally well-known brands and chains here as you would in any other country.

While it can be a nice reassurance at times, try not to spend your entire trip in these places! Embrace the local experience and try out local restaurants and shops too. Not only will you get to sample some of the unique local cuisine – you can also step out of your comfort zone and discover something new!

Are you heading out somewhere new and exciting? Where are you going and how have you prepared for your trip? Tell us in the comments!