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Do you travel through learning the language?

Posted by Angie Chua
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Travel Blogger, Inspired Trip

I've been multilingual since I was young, with three fluent (or nearly fluent) languages under my belt, like many Malaysians. I also self-studied Japanese from a young age.

Recently I delved into learning French after conversing with native speakers (in English). I was fascinated to understand why French-speakers articulated things the way they did in English, by matching the vocabulary and structure to their native French. I also learned about idioms and phrases through language podcasts.

I've only visited a few cities in France — however learning the culture through the language made me feel like I'm actually experiencing the country.

Does anyone else feel the same about language-based tourism?

13 days ago (edited)
Aspiring travel blogger & writer, Home in the World

Definitely. I love foreign languages and am a translator by profession. It's so great to be able to converse with people & read information when travelling. But even if I am visiting a country where I don't know the language, I make sure I learn at least some basics before going, if nothing else out of respect to the locals. It's always a much richer travel experience when you are able to witness a culture through the lens of language.

13 days ago
Travel Blogger,

Language is certainly key to appreciating local culture when travelling. I studied ethnology during my formative schooling and remain facinated in the subject, specifically from an Africa perspective.

In South Africa nearly all locals are multilingual with English, Afrikaans, Sotho, Xhosa, and Zulu being the most common home languages and the former two being spoken fluently by nearly everyone.

There are also six other official languages in the country, so you'll encounter different dialects (and cultures) in each of the country's nine the provinces. Even Sign Language holds official status under the constitution.

In cosmopolitan cities, like Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban, you'll encounter many of Africa's
2,000 languages. In terms of language diversity in a single country, Nigeria has the most with 520 languages.

13 days ago
Freelance Food & Travel Writer,

Yes, I do - especially when it comes to food. =) It's so much more useful to be able to view the menu in the language of my destination vs the less descriptive (and sometimes mistranslated) English version. At the very least, I'll add the language on Duolingo a month or two before a trip. The smallest phrases come in handy sometimes!

I wrote about this topic last year too:

11 days ago