I absolutely love learning new languages when I am on the road and wherever possible I will look to try and learn at least a few phrases and sayings no matter where I am going. For me there is something so incredibly special about unlocking a language and that is the phrase which I think applies best.
Once you are able to get beneath the surface of a language you can unlock people, personalities and cultures like nothing before. Even if you only learn how to order a beer in another language, the rush that you get from that is just incredible, yet sadly there are so many who just don’t do it, and most of that is because they speak the mother tongue, of English.
I am often divided between whether I believe this to be pure ignorance on the part of the person speaking, or whether they are so arrogant that they assume that everyone speaks English because of its prevalence in the world. I actually think that the people who refuse to try and pick up some language are ignorant more than arrogant but there are certainly some, especially Americans the Americas and English in Europe, who genuinely believe that they have the right to go to another nation and speak their own language, which they would never accept in their home country.
Now as I have said, the large majority of those who only speak their mother tongue are those who are wholly genuine, not arrogant, they just didn’t take the time. In some cases however people think that it is just too difficult to pick up a few swings in Mandarin or in Romania, but the truth is that we are talking absolute basics here. Start off with please and thank you, hello and goodbye, perhaps even a ‘where is..’. Keep it simple, keep a phrase book with you, and you’ll be great.
What so many fail to realize when it comes to speaking another language is that in doing so you are going to be guaranteed a far better experience than someone who doesn’t even try, at least in most countries. I have to say that in Paris I wasn’t received too warmly by some for my broken French, but in the overwhelming majority of countries you are going to find locals who are super impressed by the fact that you took the time out to try and speak like them, and even if you get it wrong they will certainly open themselves up to you more than if you just arrive and expect them to speak your language.
The mother tongue has traveled far and wide, it is generally accepted as the language of trade and money and there are a lot of people around the world who speak it, with that being said, this should never stop you from learning some words and phrases of the country which you plan to visit.