While others are still trying to figure out the menu, you’ve already ordered, sat drink in hand on the terrace. Lost on the bus? No problem – you’ll just ask a local where you went wrong. That lust-worthy piece of jewellery at the market? Local price for you and tourist price for the rest. These a just a few of the simple pleasures you can enjoy when you speak another language.
Speaking a language takes the stress out of travelling in a massive way. Even in the most well-equipped tourist resorts, you’re sure to find locals with whom gesturing and complex sign language are your only form of communication. It’s frustrating, it’s tiring and it rarely gives the desired result. While this can be annoying when trying to order an ice-cream, imagine what it’s like when disaster strikes – lost luggage, falling victim to pickpockets or even a medical emergency – it doesn’t bear thinking about! Speaking a foreign language allows you to act fast, cutting out the need for a middleman interpreter. While interpreters are a god-send, it often takes time to organise their services and, of course, they cost a bomb! The peace of mind given by language skills is immeasurable, as is their contribution to your cultural understanding of a place. Being able to speak to the locals will help you to get off the tourist track to some of the most authentic hotspots, where there isn’t an English menu or guidebook or expat for miles. Not only that, but listening to the stories of those you meet, about their lives and how they came to be there is the most enriching and memorable of experiences which can’t be replicated by any guide book.
Speaking a language doesn’t just have holiday benefits but career benefits as well. With the world getting smaller each and every day, the few of us who speak second and even third languages are much in demand in the business world. Languages can give you an edge whatever your field and can open a wealth of opportunities like frequent travel within your role or even relocation.
It’s ignorant to believe that everyone in the world speaks English. While not all of us can be confidently bilingual, don’t underestimate the value of learning a few words – trust me when I say, they go a long, long way! Consider them the best investment you ever make!