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Language tips for travellers

Learn the basics

Nobody is suggesting you need to become fluent for every business destination you travel to, but learning a few basic words and phrases in advance will be helpful on your trip. Knowing how to say hello, please and thank you in the native language will endear you to both your clients and the locals, who will appreciate the effort you’ve made.

Not just verbal

If you’re struggling with your words, body language and hand gestures can go a long way. Put those charades skills you learned at Christmas to good use and you’ll get your point across quicker than if you keep repeating the same confused phrase over and over. Keep your gestures polite and look up what the connotations are in different cultures – trust us, you don’t want to give someone a thumbs up in the Middle East.

‘App-y days

Gone are the days of a battered phrasebook in your briefcase – translation apps have made communicating on-the-go easy. Google Translate now has an offline mode, so you don’t need to worry about being connected to the internet. You can type in phrases to translate, take pictures of signs and menus to get an instant translation, and there is even an option to translate speech as you talk. The future is now!

Write it down

Take important details with you in written form, preferably in the native language. The address of your accommodation and the venue you’re going to for your conference or meeting are obvious choices and will be helpful if you need to communicate with a taxi driver or ask for directions on the street.

Be kind

It can be frustrating to feel like you’re not being understood, but it’s important to be patient and kind when trying to communicate in a language other than your own. After all, you’d hope your conversation partner would be the same with you! The power of a smile goes a long way, and you’ll find that the nicer you are, the more likely people are to go out of their way to help you.

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