Don’t Know the Language? Not a Problem!

Knowing multiple languages is an amazing task to conquer and I applaud all those who can triumph over language barriers with ease. I, on the other hand, have been attempting to learn Spanish since Elementary School and you’d think I would have gotten past the ‘Como estas?’ stage. Nope, I am part of the .01% of the world that has the last name ‘Gomez’ and cannot converse in Spanish to save my life.

Now that you know my lack of skill in the language department you might be shocked to find I’ve been living in Amman, Jordan for almost 10 months now and have not once been thrown off guard just because I do not speak fluent Arabic. So don’t be hesitant on taking a trip to China or traveling across Europe just because you don’t know the language, it’s not a problem! Take my advice and enjoy all the pleasures and beauty the whole world has to offer and conquer those language barriers with ease!

There’s An App For That

Screen shot of Vocre in the works 🙂

Apps; solving problems you didn’t even knew you had! The technology world has really meshed well with travelers worldwide as there are loads of apps and other devices that truly cater to their convenience.  If you are uncertain how to navigate your way around the city just because your lack of knowledge of the native language, check out these awesome apps I believe will help you out:

Vocre– To me, this is the best all-around app that I have had great experience with. Instead of making crazy hand motions to get what you want you can just talk into your phone, record what you want to be said and your words will be converted into a text bubble or spoken in the other person’s native language. But it gets better, this is a FREE app and everybody loves free right?!

Translator with Speech- The cool thing about this app is that when you record yourself or have previous texts, even when you are not in a wi-fi area, you can go back to the saved recordings and click them to playback for you. Plus the fact this app supports 54 languages you will more than likely find what you need.

There are plenty more to check out like The Language Pro and Speechtrans, which I have heard are great also, but these two I have personally tried out and loved. If you have a favorite translating app let me know, I’m always open for more ways of communicating 😉

What Does سوبر ماركت Mean?!

If you guessed supermarket you were right! However I don’t know about you, but I would never have guessed that. Every day I wish the Roman alphabet was the only one that existed, but for now pictures are my best friend! Check around your surroundings and usually there are pictured symbols that let you figure out what type of store it is. For the most part there are usually English translations close by so look around before you go out of your way to ask someone what it means. If you are unsure how to explain to the taxi driver, and unable to use one of the above apps, you can get someone from the hotel or find an English speaking local that will write down your address in their language. Make sure they also include some major landmarks; from my experience most people do not actually know street names but rather the famous Hyatt hotel or the local Police Station that is close by. My husband did this for me and trust me I use that piece of paper ALL the time!

Now you can easily guess that this is a Pizza Hut..yay for pictured symbols 🙂

English Is Quite The Universal Language

Luckily for me, I was born in an English speaking country and thankfully that just so happens to be quite the universal language. However, even if you are not from an English-speaking country it is almost guaranteed that you learned English during school (and since you are reading this article I take it you learned well). So instead of attempting to Rosetta Stone your way to greatness in another country, brush up on your English and you will more than likely find someone that can communicate with you. My husband is always amazed at how many times I simply can just speak English to a person over here and they understand me.

Take it from me, the most hard headed language learner you could imagine, you CAN get around an unfamiliar city not knowing the language and still appreciate all that is around you. So go ahead and explore the world without those silly language barriers getting in your way!

Have you ever been in a country that you did not know the language? What did YOU do?

Published in Culture and People, People to Meet

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Meet the Author

I've always said if I could write a book about my life I would start with my very first vacation. At that very moment I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, travel the world. Some may call it a fool's dream but I call it my life's purpose. A great quote that I live by is, "The...

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  1. Jan Ashlee

    Hello! I love ur blog site! it served as my inspiration in creating my own travel blog. I hope you could visit my blogsite too or even add me on your bloglist. thank u so much and good luck on ur future trips!! – Jan Ashlee,

  2. Jeremy@Donegal Hotels

    The language is an issue sometimes when you need to visit foreign locations. Thanks to the latest techniques it is now easy to translate and have adequate knowledge about the various languages.

  3. Ele

    I had a problem with staff at Central Train Station Warsaw. Even though is a major hub for trains to both domestic and international links but the staff there speaks only Polish. That’s it, want a ticket- learn reading and speaking Polish. Fluently. Of course, you can try stopping someone to ask for help but 85percent of people stopped will be freaked out tourists themselves. Shame on the station.

  4. Elmer Cruz

    I think it is also the manner in which you speak english that tends to throw people from non-English speaking backgorund off. I am not sure if its a defense mecahnism or you come out arrogant. I remember during my first years living in Australia, i was approached by an elderly woman asking for directions. I didnt quite hear her question so i said “i’m sorry,” but before i could finish saying thwt i didnt quite get her question she started to repeat the question and this time slower and much louder. I got offended. I am not deaf! And this goes the same for people who dont have a complete grasp of the language. They may just be taking time processing the information, translating their answers in their heads, then delivering with the right pronunciation. Having said this, i am always careful when i speak with people of non-english speaking background. Patience is a virtue and these apps that you have mentioned Tiffany will add to my arsenal. Thanks.

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