Travel Tips: How to Conquer Language Barriers


Going for a trip but don’t speak their language? Not being able to communicate in a foreign place may be frustrating and scary but don’t let it be a reason for you to not travel.

If you are able to communicate with them, you most likely have no problem to ask for directions and recommendations. I believe you can also experience the culture more in depth and establish a connection with the people in the country you are traveling in.

So, what if you have no time to crack the books before you hit the road? There are ways around the language barrier:

1. Use Body Language

Research shows that 60% to 90% of our communication with others is nonverbal, which means body language plays an extremely huge part. Hence, even without the ability to speak their language, smiles, hellos and simple nods can be good initiatives to interact with locals. Look around and see what others do in social situation, and then you will get a hint on what is appropriate. Adopt those practices and you might break down the barriers and gain trust from the locals.

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2. Say and Listen

The best way to learn the language while you’re traveling is to ask the locals. You can start a conversation by asking them “what is it called” and listen to the pronunciation from a local. They will always be happy with your effort to try. This may also be a chance for you to learn more about their culture directly.

3. Multi Language Map

Most maps are printed with standard English names. Even though we are able to read the road names, sometimes we might not be able to match them with the roadsigns as some still show as their own language. Hence, if you have a map with English and the language of the country you’re visiting, it will be easier for you to read and match them or to approach locals to show you the way.

4. Technology can help

With the possession of smartphone and ease of connectivity to internet, there’s a lot of information that you can acquire through apps and web browsing. Therefore, you can use map and translator to assist you on your travel journey. For example, Google Translate can come in handy at times when you are trying to ask for direction or asking for help.

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5. Travel with Local Guide

Tour guides are the best link to a local culture since they can help to bridge the gap between you and the locals. They can provide direct assistance on how to communicate with locals in a polite way and also guide you to get the most authentic and life-changing experience in a foreign culture.

These are some of the leeway that you can take when you are traveling to places where you don’t speak their language. All in all, tour guides is the best and most carefree method to connect with local culture as you get to experience the most of everything with someone who is familiar with the place and able to introduce you their cultural practices and local delicacies.

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