Motives for learning a language before you travel

November 09, 2018

Learning a new, foreign language has never been easier than it is today. Nowadays, due to the developments in technology, you could start learning a language in a number of different ways and easily find one that’s really suitable for you; from online classes to audiobooks and podcasts to video calls with a native speaker based across the world.

Being able to speak in and understand another language in today’s world is an extremely useful skill, within both; the personal and professional life.

Certainly, within a business environment a second language (and what follows, a better understanding of its culture) can come in handy in a number of different situations such as negotiations or business meetings and proposals.

Being able to communicate in more than just one language can also be an extremely beneficial skill in your personal life. One of the most underestimated, yet valuable motives for starting to study a foreign language is traveling. Who of us wouldn’t want to communicate easily with people during our international escapades or order a meal in a small restaurant only known to the locals where nobody speaks English?

Today, we’ll look at the 5 reasons you should start learning a language before you travel!


1.    Communicate with the locals

Being able to communicate with the locals in their native language is one of the best ways to meet new, exciting people and learn more about their culture, values and way of life. Remember, not everyone in the world is able to speak English and so by learning a new language before you travel, even if not fluently, and using your newly acquired skill to communicate, you will not only show more respect to the locals but will also appear more approachable.

2.    Practice your linguistic skills

There is a number of great and different ways to learn a new language – some of them, such as online classes or skype chats we’ve already mentioned. Nonetheless, nothing can compare to truly immersing yourself in the language by speaking and listening to the native speakers in their home environment.

Languages can be extremely complicated, and some of the nuances that define a language may not be included in the learning books or even classes and can only be noticed when interacting with its native speakers on the daily basis. This has also been noticed within the business and corporate world. A number of UK based professional translation agencies such as Translation Services 24 state on their websites that they work only with native speakers of the target language, because it ensures accuracy and cultural suitability.

3.    Find hidden spots

Travelling to a new destination and following a route set previously by thousands of other tourists and visiting all the bars, restaurants and places they recommend could be…fun – but wouldn’t it be more ‘fun’ to visit places only known by the locals and which are hidden away from the likes of TripAdvisor? By speaking the language, you will be able not only to find these hidden, local gems, but will also be able to experience a more authentic version of the place you’re visiting, one that isn’t tailored especially for the tourists.

 4.    Explore art

When travelling to a new destination, majority of people tend to focus on discovering and understanding different factors of its culture, such as history, architecture or food, but not really giving much attention to local art, literature and music, which in many ways can reflect the true nature of the place you are visiting.

For example, many original versions of the books we read today in English are adaptations and translations of books written in a different language or stories based in the place you’re visiting. If reading isn’t for you, then why not try listening to local music or watching a movie in the native language? Having the ability to understand the language will allow you to fully absorb the culture through art, music and literature.

5.    Emergencies

Although this isn’t something any of us would like to think about, especially during our travels – emergencies and accidents can happen. By speaking a local language, you will in many cases be able to get out of troubles or avoid getting into them in the first place.

Whether asking where the nearest police station is, calling an ambulance or simply telling a waitress or waiter that you’re allergic to peanuts, linguistic skills can come in handy when we least expect it, but need it most.

Languages are important, there’s no doubt about that. From your personal to your professional life – the benefits of being able to speak a foreign language can be great. Deciding which language to learn can be a difficult decision however. Speak Mandarin and you’re most likely to do well in business in the future but won’t be able to use your newly acquired linguistic skills during travels practically anywhere in Europe. Speak French and you will be reduced to miming in Japan…you get the idea.

Combining learning a language with travelling however can be a good solution. Many people learn a language not because they want to close a business deal, but because they fell in love with a particular culture and so speaking it’s language seem like the next, natural step to take. If you start learning a language before visiting a country, you’ll be able to confirm whether this is the language you wish to continue learning, or if it isn’t for you, perhaps. It’s important to remember however that you do not need to speak a language fluently when you travel and even the basics will be extremely helpful in a number of different situations.