Are you a sucker for learning new languages? Or, just like me, do you fall in awe and watch people who speak fluent French in a dumbfounded manner? But there’s another, a highly underrated reason for learning new languages. Travel! That’s right. One of my greatest motivators for learning Spanish was getting to go to Peru. And I have been benefiting from that ever since. Learning some basic Spanish is what you need in your arsenal, believe me, or not.
1. Read the signs – and maps!
Shall I remind you the last time you got lost in Parisian streets because you failed to read the signboards? I think not. You see, knowing a language makes it easier to understand the signs and directions. Best part? You don’t need the waiter to translate the menu for you in his broken English! You won’t miss out on romantic graffiti scribbled in a (previously) alien language on the walls in some narrow alleyway.
2. Your hosts’ happiness
I think it would be entitled to assume that whenever we visit a new country, the natives would be readily available as a volunteer translator! It just makes it so much easier for the hosts if you know how to make a simple conversation in their mother tongue. I bet you, even if your accent ends up sounding horrible they are not going to hate it. Say ‘thank you’ in their language and watch their faces light up!
3. Learning new cultures
Granted, humans are adaptable. But learning a new culture can be troublesome when you visit a country for the first time. Being able to communicate with people in their native language can help you understand their culture better. Notice how people become unusually expressive when they are speaking their native language, it is like their body language has altered completely.
4. You will make new friends
Learn the local language of your summer vacation destination, and I bet you’ll come back with more friends on your Instagram! Being able to communicate with people in their native language can create an incredible bond. Sharing the same language and communicating in it could help you understand the other person in depth. And even if you won’t meet those people again, those once-in-a-lifetime interactions will become a memory you can cherish forever.
5. It will keep you safe
Okay, this is especially useful for women. Those of us who like to travel alone have to be especially careful. Often tourist attractions are crowded, and they provide criminals with easy targets.
Knowing the common language can help you tackle the situation in various ways. If people are trying to scam you, you can understand their intentions.
Even if you are not in the position to call cops, you can seek the help of a local. Knowing the language can not only make your trip memorable, but it can also save you from getting into trouble.
I will assume I was able to convince your inner wanderer about the advantages of learning a new language if you are a traveler, now go revise those Spanish lessons! And don’t forget to have fun.
About the Author:
Lara Smith has worked for Wall Street English for 20 years. After studying at Stanford University and subsequently doing a CELTA course, she began her career in teaching. She is obsessed with languages and currently writes blogs at https://www.mimicmethod.com/.