Very few of us are hyper-polyglots, the kind of people who can master dozens of languages in a lifetime. Still, it’s always polite to at least make an attempt at speaking the native language when traveling in a foreign country. So in the limited time you have before you jet off, what are the most important phrases to try to have under your belt (or on the tip of your tongue) when you land? Try these on for size:
1. Hello! Good day.These will likely be the words you hear most in your travels, whether it’s from hoteliers, waiters, shopkeepers, or people around town. Practice your accent by throwing out a hearty “bonjour!” or “buenos días!”
2. I don’t speak ___. Do you speak English?Almost immediately after your greeting, you’ll probably have to break this one out. Commit it to memory for those times when someone comes up to you on the street or in a store with a rapid-fire slew of words that are foreign to you. In that moment, you’ll probably be at a loss for words, and you don’t want to have to shuffle around for your phrasebook for too long.
3. Please and thank you Endear yourself to those around you by being as polite as you can. Know the words for please and thank you, and use them often. No doubt it will make people a little more patient when you’re confused or trying to figure out unfamiliar customs.