As travelers, there are steps that we all take to prepare for an upcoming trip. We intensely read travel blogs to learn where to find the best local eats, we scour the internet for relevant travel hacks, and then we spend hours carefully crafting the perfect itinerary. With all that time put into making our trip the best it can be, why don’t we use any of it to learn the local language?
Learning the local language is a guaranteed way to make your trip truly memorable. It helps you understand the culture, connect with the locals, and experience places in a whole new way. And while learning a new language used to mean lengthy classes and boring textbooks, language learning apps like Babbel make it easier than ever.
That’s why we’ve teamed up with our friends at Babbel, the world’s #1 language learning app, to list 5 reasons why you should learn the local language before your next trip.
You’ll Save Money (and Have Fun Doing it!)
In many countries, the art of haggling at the local market is very much alive and well. To join in on the fun, use an app like Babbel to master some key shopping phrases and numbers in the local language before your trip. This knowledge will allow you to bargain alongside locals and, more than likely, walk away with a much better price on that souvenir. And even if you do leave without scoring a great deal, at least you got valuable practice!
Whether bargaining or not, tourists are also often quoted seriously marked-up prices in markets around the world. This is especially true if you decide to open the negotiations in English. Simply being able to offer a friendly greeting and, “cuánto cuesta?” instead of just asking, “how much?” can make you seem like someone who’s more in-the-know as far as prices go. Just remember to be confident.
You Can Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture
When you think about why you travel, chances are that it isn’t to collect photos for your Instagram or cheesy souvenir t-shirts (at least we hope not). More likely, you travel because you deeply enjoy experiencing new cultures.
You can spend all of your time reading travel guides but the best way to truly learn about a culture is through the local language and communicating with people. It connects you to both a place’s past and its present. The local language allows locals to tell you their stories first hand and to describe their historic traditions and customs.
The language also allows you to better understand simpler, more modern parts of culture. The beloved movies, music, and TV shows of a country often provide an insight into the local culture that most tourists miss. Picking up a newspaper and translating the top headlines will give you a feel for what’s happening in that country.
Plus, going out for karaoke with your new local friends is a lot more fun when you can actually sing along.
You’re Showing Respect to the Locals
This one is simple but one that many travelers sometimes forget: when we travel, we’re guests. Instead of expecting someone – especially the 70-year-old grandma who owns the shop you’re in – to accommodate you by speaking English, make an effort to speak their language. Just by making an effort, you’re showing respect to the people you meet and treating them like real people, rather than someone who’s just there to accommodate you.
And yes, there will absolutely be times when locals might prefer to speak English. Like you, they might be excited at the opportunity to practice another language. Or they may just be more proficient in English than you are in their language. In any case, they’ll still certainly appreciate the effort.
You’ll Be Better Prepared for Any Situation
Unfortunately, as any traveler knows, most trips come with their share of stressful moments when it pays to know the local language.
This could include minor challenges like navigating a train station or highway where the signage is only written in the local language or asking for directions when Google Maps won’t work because you ran out of data. But knowing the local language can really help in more crucial situations too, such as speaking with police or communicating severe allergies to your waiter.
You’ll Make Friends and Connect with People in a Real Way
As any seasoned traveler will tell you, pointing, gesturing, and using simple English words is enough to get you through most travel situations. And that’s great! But while the language barrier may not stop you from finding the nearest toilet, it does put a ceiling on just how close you can get with people.
Learning the local language makes it possible for you to have meet and form real connections with both locals and other travelers. By limiting yourself to English, you could be missing out on unique experiences like a great dinner chat with the owner of your guesthouse or a round of drinks with the locals you just met.
And remember: you don’t lose the language when you leave. Languages such as Spanish, French, and Portuguese are useful in countries all over the world. Even back home in America, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to keep your Spanish skills sharp in places like Miami and New York City.
The easiest way to learn a new language in just 3 weeks
To learn a new language, you don’t need to spend time memorizing abstract grammar rules and useless vocabulary. You need to learn how to speak the words and phrases that you’ll actually be using in real-life scenarios during your travels. And you need to learn them quickly. That’s where Babbel comes in.
By focusing on getting you to actually speak a language, Babbel’s bite-sized lessons make it easy to quickly learn a new language before your next trip. In fact, many users report that just 3 weeks of regular use is enough for them to have a basic conversation in their chosen language. Best of all, you’ll actually remember what you’ve studied. Babbel also reintroduces words through six memory stages using the technique of spaced repetition so that you retain everything for the long term.
So If you’re ready to travel better and learn a language that you can use on your next trip and for years to come, try Babbel today for up to 50% off!
BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.