Why language learning should be a priority for travellers?

Jan 13th, 2021 | by  Debjani Das


In my opinion, language has always been a very powerful tool of communication. Travelling stimulates our desires and curiosity to learn a new language. Some people learn a new language when they visit foreign countries or study abroad. Language learning is also motivated by other causes like interest in learning the history of a particular place or knowing about the culture and the origin of the language. 

I would like to start with why language learning is beneficial, especially for travelling. Suppose you have been to a foreign country where English is the second language and you try to communicate with them in English. Consider yourself lucky if they respond in English. What if there is a language barrier? It is clear that we cannot always rely on English for communication. Most people communicate only their native language. You will have to rely on someone who can translate the language for you. So it’s better if you take some time to learn the language yourself. 

English is the first language of most of the countries around the world. It is always better to communicate with people in their native language. It is the language only which connects people together. I believe it is better to learn and communicate than rely on technology to get the work done. 

A traveller doesn't learn a second language for only basic communication. Some other reasons are-

  • It has a lot of cultural benefits. When you converse with the localites, you get to know about their culture on a deeper level like their source of entertainment and information, what are the traditions or what is the history of that place. It connects you with the people and the place.
  • It isn’t necessary to be fluent in a foreign language. However, a little effort might show how much you respect the culture and the people. Even if you know some phrases or basics about that language, you will be genuinely different from the rest of the travellers.
  • Knowing a foreign language is a lot of fun. When you visit a place for a longer duration, you get familiar with the people. There are chances that they might invite you home to stay or to go on adventures with them. 
  • You don't even require a tour guide. You can solely rely on yourself and enjoy the adventure.

So that's how language is associated with travelling. You can explore more and more. Travelling is not only having a tour of the place but to know about the place. You will always be aware of what others are talking about when it comes to your safety. Language learning has its own perks.

We can always learn a language even when we are travelling. There are many ways to learn a new language. Some of them are as follows:

  • For travelling, learning a few phrases should be enough. Try to master them in a week and then you can smoothly go on with your adventures. 
  • You can also learn a language by meeting more native speakers. Expose yourself to such areas where the language is commonly spoken like going to local market places, communicating with the local people, etc. It will help you practice. You can ask people for directions even if you know where you are going.
  • Keep practising on your own. There are certain apps like Duolingo or Babbel which will improve your vocabulary. Learning new languages might seem scary at first but gradually you will gain confidence and this will keep you motivated to learn more.

You can always try to be more than a normal tourist. Instead of just saying hello and thank you, try to interact and experience more of that language. It will lead to cultural immersion. Whenever we travel out of the country, problems like losing the way, falling ill or getting mugged occur if you are underprepared. Knowing the local language will help in reaching your location. At least you can read the timetables, place names and correct transportation which will help you reach your destination safe and sound. If you fall ill or get injured, you can go to the pharmacy and ask for their help. You can even save yourself from getting mugged. Suppose you are being followed in a crowded place and someone tells their companion that they are going to mug you. They will assume that you don't know the language but you will understand and prepare yourself accordingly. 

Learning a language won't harm you in any way. In fact, it will benefit you when you are out of the country. So enjoy and explore as much as you can.



Debjani Das

Debjani Das

Student of Calcutta University.

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