Planning on traveling abroad? Well aside from looking forward to some beautiful Instagram shots, foreign stamps on your passport, a taste of cultural delights, stunning architecture, and an expanding of your worldview – your experience may not be all that it’s cracked up to be if you encounter one too many a language barrier. Comprende? Yes, gesturing and pointing at a map will only get you so far. It’s really in your best interest to learn a couple of key phrases in a couple of different commonly spoken languages such as French, German, and Spanish. Just a few greetings and salutations in these languages will take you a lot farther on your trip than any boarding pass you’re holding on to, as they’ll help you cross the language barrier to a richer, more immersive experience while abroad. So don’t sweat the pocket dictionary. Just these following 8 phrases (and a little bit of charm), will take you everywhere you want to go when you go traveling abroad…
Hi, my *local language*…
… ins’t good. Do you speak english? French: Salut, mon * langue locale * ins’t bonne. Parlez-vous anglais? Spanish: Hola, mi idioma local * * ins’t buena. ¿Habla usted Inglés? German: Hallo, mein * Landessprache * ins’t gut. Sprichst du Englisch? By cutting to the chase with this polite, yet very essential query, at least if you get a “No”, you’re bumbling attempts at speaking their mother tongue will endear you to the locals.
How much is it?
French: Combien ça coûte? Spanish: ¿Cuánto cuesta? German: Wie viel kostet das? Whether you’re looking for food, accommodations, or some gitchy souvenirs, you’re going to have to spend money. Of course, no one wants to over-pay. Especially in foreign countries where A) many take advantage of foreigners, and B) prices are often subject to negotiation. So keep that question in those 3 languages in your back pocket with your wallet. And oh, it might be worth your while to learn how to count to 10 in those languages as well.
Where is the train station?
German: Wo ist der Bahnhof? French: Où est la gare? Spanish: ¿Donde esta la estacion de trenes? While taking a taxi is fine in a pinch, you’re gonna want to save some money by using public transit instead. Of course, you’re going to need to know where it is, especially when there’s no trusty Wi-Fi on hand. Oh, and learning words like “straight”, “left”, “right” is the right thing to do, as pointing will only get you so far.
Where’s the bathroom?
Spanish: ¿Dónde está el baño? French: Où est la salle de bain? German: Wo ist das Badezimmer? When nature calls, you’re going to want to know how to talk to it. Whether you’re lounging in some café, or touring the city streets, being able to ask where the restroom is, is simply a must-know skill. (Oh, just a little FYI – only in the US is it called a “restroom”. So when all else fails, cross your fingers and say toilet.)
What Is Your Favorite Dish?
German: Was ist dein Lieblingsgericht? French: Quel est ton plat préféré? Spanish: ¿Cuál es tu plato favorito? When ordering at a restaurant, if you’re after the most authentic (and best prepared) dish, then this phrase will bring you the meal that’ll make you feel right at home. Of course, it’s best used by those with a taste of adventure, and only recommended for allergy-free travelers.
… *WHILE POINTING TO POINT OF INTEREST ON MAP*. Spanish:¿Dónde está? German: Wo ist? French: Où se trouve? Getting lost is just par for the course when traveling abroad. So if you want to find that hotel, restaurant, museum, brothel in a hurry, just point to your physical, or pre-loaded map on your phone while saying the above.
Excuse me, I’m sorry.
French: Excusez-moi, je suis désolé. Spanish: Disculpe lo siento. German: Entschuldigen Sie / Es tut mir leid. These trusty pardons are essential, as you’ll no doubt bump into, or cut someone off while walking busy streets. You’ll want to avoid sideways looks and annoying the locals, as they won’t be very accommodating if you don’t excuse / apologize for yourself. So record these to memory for as they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
I don’t understand
German: Ich verstehe nicht French: Je ne comprends pas Spanish: No entiendo. Naturally, these 8 phrases in 3 different languages will by no means make you an interpreter, or even able to brag to others that you’re multi-lingual. So of course, you’re going to need to explain to people that you simply don’t understand, in the hopes that they keep their responses short and sweet, along with hopefully, helpful. Good luck and Au Revoir (in French), Auf Wiedersehen (in German), and adiós (in Spanish).