I’ve talked before about how cool it would be to be able to chat with – or even understand – the Swahili-speaking guides with us at our photo expedition in Tanzania.
But speaking the native language has benefits that go way beyond being able to communicate with locals. Sure, it’s amazing to be able to immerse yourself in a culture and know more about the local customs and viewpoints, but here are a few other perks you enjoy when you’re fluent in a second language:
You can bargain better and dig deeper
When you can truly speak a language – beyond the usual “Hello,” “How are you?” and “My name is…” – then you have all the resources you need to navigate an unfamiliar land. For instance, you will be able to comprehend more complex interactions, such as shopping at the local market, negotiating with guides and taxi drivers, and asking questions at a pharmacy. People who speak the language get ripped off less, get a clearer understanding of the culture, and have a more satisfying travel experience overall.
You can learn more
Being able to ask questions of a museum docent or fellow bus passenger about the origins of customs and cultural nuances will greatly enhance your knowledge and perceptions of a locale.
You can get around more easily
Not only will you be able to ask for directions or clarification of directions, but you can also find out what places you shouldn’t miss and what restaurants are a must, all in a way that someone who is just trolling TripAdvisor could never pull off. As soon as locals find out that they can converse with you, they will be much likelier to share their “insider information.”
You can help others
Wouldn’t it be great to be that person who overhears someone who can’t speak the local language trying – and failing – to communicate effectively? You could be the international bridge between two people who can’t understand each other’s words.
Picking up a second language is easier than you think. In fact, with Great Escape Spanish you can start speaking in just a single afternoon.. After day one, it comes down to mastering pronunciation — and we have recordings to help you with that, too. They come free with the program.
Last year, we helped more than 8,900 people just like you learn Spanish, their second language, and then some of them came back for the French program, too, after they saw how easy language learning could be. The approach is unique, and it works.