learning for foreign holidays

Are you learning the language for your next foreign holiday?


Recently I had to make a call to a reservations company in France, it was one that I was pretty confident would speak English but still, as the phone rang I nervously rehearsed in my head the one French phrase I can confidently say…

‘Bonjour! Parlez-vous anglais?’

As children, I remember my brother grunting as a miserable teen doing his homework that this was all you needed to learn in every language but it was not how I felt. I feel ashamed and a bit of a failure when I have to utter it. I loved languages and it remains a goal of mine to learn one, a goal which even whilst writing I wonder why I have not pursued.

The gentleman on the other line chuckled and said how nicely I’d said it, I couldn’t decide if he was genuine or not but decided to accept the compliment.

When travelling as children, my Mum always encouraged us to learn and use a few words of the local language but these never went past the niceties of hello, please, thank-you etc. In some languages, we may have known how to order an ice-cream or buy a loaf of bread. I remember my Dad always learning ‘2 beers please’ not being one to feed a stereotype – obviously!!

It would appear that we very much fit the national average on this with recent findings in a survey conducted by Holiday Autos finding Brits heading abroad speak and an average of just 8 words of the local language.

In reality, my father worked in several foreign countries and was much better at languages than his joke would suggest. When living in Hong Kong, he spent a while learning Cantonese which is a language in which it’s incredibly easy to make translation mistakes like in the video above. A normal phrase said with slightly wrong sounds could easily be interpreted as something very rude!

A slightly miserable 23% of us make no attempt to learn languages when travelling abroad saying that ‘everyone speaks English’. Slightly more encouragingly two-thirds of us are ashamed at the lack of effort, as a nation, we put into learning a foreign language when travelling and 35% would like to learn more.

For those heading abroad and wanting to learn some local lingo, holiday autos have produced some handy language guides that are available online and include top foreign phrases that you can learn while travelling or before you pick up your holiday hire car.

So whilst I brush up on my French; do you make an effort to learn the language before going abroad?

~ Collaborative Post ~