FIVES. Entry Number One: Five Things To Learn To Say In a Foreign Language

When traveling it is essential to make an effort to communicate in the native language of the place you are visiting. From the moment you decide on your destination, you should begin learning and practicing the basic greetings and expressions of the locale you'll be visiting. Under no circumstances should you assume that the locals will understand your language. I've seen many Americans make this mistake and it can be both embarassing and frustrating for all parties involved.

Which brings me to the first installment of FIVES. If you are going to learn FIVE words or expressions in the language of the place you will be visiting, I suggest starting with the following:

1. "Hello" - You'll say this to almost everyone you come in contact with and it's a great way to share a few head nods and passing smiles with the people you encounter daily.

2. "Please" - All cultures value good manners. Even if you are ordering food from a menu that you can't read, the least you can do is point to the selection and say, "Please."

3. "Thank you." - Again, basic manners. If someone opens a door for you, serves you a drink, or gives you ride to your next destination, always thank them graciously.

4. "I'm sorry" - Being unfamiliar with your surroundings or the local customs, you are bound to make some mistakes. Most often though, mistakes will be overlooked if you can simply apologize for your misstep.

5. "I don't speak much (insert language here)" - This explanation should be delivered with humility after you have said all that you can possibly say in a particular foreign language. The key is to show through your tone that you really wish you could speak more of the language but unfortunately cannot.

These five expressions are simply a starting point but you will likely use these more frequently than most other words and phrases.


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