The idea of travel can be romantic, adventurous and sometimes stressful. Countries that speak a different native language than your own could cause some miscommunication during your journey. There are many ways to prepare for the language differences that may arise.


Prepare & Learn the Basics

Preparation is the easiest way to avoid language conflicts. The first step to avoid conflicts would be to study their language and culture. It would be naive to think another culture is going to adjust themselves to your needs. Easy ways to become acquainted with the language and culture is to become familiar with the language and learn quick daily phrases. A good tip to remember is to be aware of your own slang. Mumbling or saying words that only your neighbor back home would understand, will not help maintain a healthy conversation with a person who speaks a different language.

There are multiple language and translation apps that will help you be more prepared when encountering someone who speaks a different language. Duolingo is a great app that can grow your language skills set in a fun way without taking formal classes. Be sure to plan ahead months before your trip to familiarize yourself with a new language. Learning a language is not an overnight task.


How to Speak

The intention behind words is important when in a different culture. Remember that communication can be more than just the words you say, it is how you say them. A friendly smile and a good intention can really set up speaking to a local. Be aware that some cultures have different standards for personal space so make sure to adapt for efficient communication.

Speak clearly with selective works if you are still struggling with the language still. Most cultures appreciate that you have attempted to speak their native tongue. When in doubt, stick to easy, universal words that can help the conversation. If need be, a phone translator can help but you do not want to take up a stranger’s time. Google Translate is a great tool to use if you need it.

Visual Communication

Sometimes words are just not enough. Pointing or showing a picture of what you need can really help someone understand. No need to play charades with a complete stranger but it does help if you are unafraid to physically display what you need to communicate. A smart resource to always have on you is a pocket dictionary of the native language.

Respect and kindness are easy ways to smooth over the possibility of language conflicts. Be prepared to encounter people who will not engage with you because they are unsure of you are your intention. There will be moments where you are uncomfortable and feel a bit uneducated but stick it out and you can grow as a world traveler.