Thinking of travelling Europe this summer? Want to go somewhere where you’ll blend right in? While surely you can’t always look the part, you could definitely make the effort to sound it.
Even if you were to pick up just a few words by going online beforehand and using language exchange sites, like using HelloTalk or Lingua.ly, the smiles you’ll spark will be worth all the goofy mistakes you might make. Or, if you’re looking to challenge yourself and pick up a life skill at the same time, why not consider learning a language wherever and whenever works best for you? There’s an online site a lot of people are loving called www.languagetrainers.co.uk.
Admittedly, finding a way to learn a language is definitely more than half the battle, but deciding on which language to learn in the first place presents quite the challenge in its self.
There are a whopping 23 officially-recognised languages throughout Europe, and plenty more spoken besides. So which language will enhance your travel experience most? Consider just a few of these:
French isn’t only the language of France; it can also be heard in Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Monaco, as well. There are some 29 countries around the world that speak French including those in Europe, so learning this language certainly widens your horizons.
French is also a great language to start with because it is a Romance language and a sort of gateway to all the others, sharing similarities with Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian. It’s true that you might not understand every word you hear in any of these languages, but learning French will make it easier for you to get the gist of what people are saying if you travel to any of these countries.
For how do you say…?, compare comment dit-on…? (French), come se dice…? (Italian), ¿cómo se dice…? (Spanish), and como se diz…? (Portuguese) if you don’t believe us!
As the next most-widely spoken language in Europe after English, German is a great language to learn for travelling Europe. German is an official language in Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein, and is a co-official language in Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg as well.
Several other countries, including Denmark, Hungary, Italy, and Poland, have German as a minority language, and in fact many countries throughout Eastern Europe will have people who understand German, since it is a language frequently taught in schools. In other words, in many of the places you might be travelling, German will be understood.
German isn’t as hard to learn as some people would have you think, either. English is also a Germanic language, so there are similarities that you’ll notice the moment you start to learn. The key is starting small and finding the vocabulary that will be useful to you. Greetings, polite enquiries like excuse me, how much is this, and where is the…? will get you far, and give you confidence to start up a conversation.
Other useful languages
If you’re looking for a language that can be understood in numerous countries, it might depend on where you are considering travelling. If Northern Europe is your destination, then it’s good to know that there is a varying degree of mutual intelligibility between Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish.
It’s also good to know that many parts of Finland understand Swedish and vice versa, and that Finnish is also understood and spoken throughout much of Estonia. So if you are looking for a European language and are heading North, perhaps something a little Scandinavian might suit you!
Tips for language learning
Go for simple vocabulary first like please, thank you, yes, and no. Throw in some food words, transport, and locations like shops and stations, and you have yourself the basics of an easy conversation.
Try watching your favourite shows with subtitles of the language you are learning. Listen and repeat; find YouTube videos of people speaking your intended language and copy their pronunciation.