Language is always used. It’s one of the best tools in life. Be it French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Turkish, English, Russian or Xhosa. When we communicate orally, we generally use a language unless we just grunt and even then, that could probably constitute a language.
When travelling, languages are always useful. The more you know, the better chance you have of being understood and getting what you are looking for. It’s amazing how many people go abroad on their travels and expect locals to speak their language. You are in their country, the least you could do is at least try and say hello in their language. It’s usually pretty easy in their native tongue. A simple local “hello” will open more doors for you than a brash, “Hey, why don’t you speak my language, look look, I am here, speak my language.
I’ve always tried to learn at least a few basics before going somewhere I don’t speak the language. I speak 3 fluently and can converse and read in 4 more so I enjoy languages. I grew up in a household where 3 different languages could have been spoken at any given time. Before my wife and I went to Istanbul, I forced myself to learn hello, thank you, please, count from 1-10 and a few other useful words in Turkish. It definetely helped, I caught the taxi driver out trying to set his meter to late night tariffs while we were in broad daylight and gave him a piece of my mind in broken Turkish! Felt good.
So why not grow out of that single language mindframe and learn another one? My wife is, she’s busy learning French, good for her. Then Spanish, Italian and Portuguese will come that much easier to her. I’m very proud of her efforts despite the obvious difficulties of learning another language.
So learn another one, go travelling where they speak your newly acquired tool and let that smile on your hosts face make your day brighter.
April 10th, 2007