How do you get around the language barrier when you’re on holiday? Do you whip out the phrasebook or rely on hand gestures and repeating yourself? (Featured image by Bruno Girin)
According to new research, you’re far more likely to do the latter as the majority of Brits resort to potentially impolite measures to get themselves understood while abroad.
A survey of more than 1,000 British holidaymakers, by telephone interpreting service i-interpret4u, has found that many UK travellers use all manner of techniques to get past the language barrier on holiday.
Everything from extravagant hand gestures to speaking loudly and slowly are used on a regular basis. The only method we don’t try, it seems, is actually learning a bit of the language.
The lack of a second-language doesn’t seem to bother most Brits, as the survey found that some 83 per cent have been to a country where they don’t speak any of the native language.
The majority, around 60 per cent, said they hope to get by with the odd phrase, while 53 per cent assume that locals will speak some English.
But it seems that these assumptions are rather misguided, as a whopping 82 per cent of the world’s population speak no English whatsoever.
“There are misconceptions about the number of people that speak English abroad; the fact is 5.7 billion people don’t; so the chance of encountering a language barrier whilst overseas is very high,” said Michael French, Director at i-interpret4u.
“The British are notoriously laid-back about learning a second language, most people just hope to get by on a wing and a prayer and that isn’t the safest option if you are travelling with a young family or elderly relative.”
While most Brits are content to take the risk and visit a country where they don’t know the language, it was found that a rather cautious 4 per cent would avoid a country altogether for this reason.