Learn the Lingo

Now we’re not saying that you have to be able to converse fluently in the language when you’re on holiday, but it’s nice to know a few words here and there. And if you keep going back to a particular country, you could build up a little knowledge each time. Speaking a few words often opens up the door to unexpected things, as well as a couple of freebies, in my holiday experience!

Get Started

Cabo San Lucas, MX

Hola!” Image by Ryan Leighty

If you find languages hard going, why not concentrate on just five words – hello, yes, no, please and thank you? The internet is a great resource for handy little lists in all sorts of languages from the common to the rare. Look for a site that will play you a little clip of a native speaking the word and pay attention to the way every syllable is pronounced. Here – we’ve put together a little guide to the very basics to get you started!

You want to say: French German Spanish Italian
Hello Bonjour Hallo Hola Buongiorno
Yes Oui Ja Si Si
No Non Nein Non No
Please S’il-vous plaît Bitte Por Favor Per Favore
Thank you Merci Danke Gracias Grazie

A Little Further


Je voudrais une baguette s’il-vous plaît!” (I would like a baguette please!) Image by petter palander

Perhaps if you’re heading off the beaten track a little, away from the tourist hotpots where English is almost always spoken, you might want to learn a little more. Simply learning to say “I’m sorry but I don’t speak the language” is a great starting point, and makes it easier on both sides to use gestures to communicate! Counting and asking for things are also good to have in your phrase armoury.

More Serious


Ich hätte lieber einmal Bier bitte!” (I would rather have a beer please!) Image by constant progression

If you want to get a bit more serious about one language in particular you could embark on a course. There are night courses all over the country, in schools and universities, that are open to anyone, for a fee. Or get hold of a do-it-yourself style guide, like the Rosetta Stone, which takes you through a series of exercises, complete with audio cd so you can hear natives speaking.

Get Stuck In

That Brief Moment

“Manda ver!” (Go for it!) Image by Tomorrow Never Knows

It’s easy isn’t it, even when you know the language, to sit back and let everyone speak English. They are so good at it, but they only got that way with practise! So have a go! Even if they reply in English you’re getting your phrases working, and they will flow and sound better every time. If you want some proper practise before you go, there are plenty of schemes online that will put you in touch with native speakers for meet-ups or chats over the phone, tailored to your skill level.

top image by NatalieMaynor