What If You Don’t Know The Language?

Imagine your boss asking you to travel to a foreign country and what if you don’t know the language? Taking a crash course sounds like a good idea provided you have the time for it. And if not, here are a few tips you can make a note of to easily communicate without knowing the language.

Play pictionary

Make sure you carry a pen and a notepad so it is easy for you to draw pictures or write words you can’t pronounce otherwise. Infact, even the locals can draw and write to make you understand things and directions without too much of a hassle.


Use the translator app

We all use smartphones these days. Install the Google Translate app to communicate in a foreign language whenever you are in a fix. All you have to do is focus the app’s camera at a road sign or a word and it will automatically translate it to the language you want. Moreover, you can talk into the microphone and the app will translate whatever it hears.


Learn basics

You can easily strike off a conversation if you know how to say basic words and phrases such as “Thank You”, “No”, “Yes”, “Help”, “Hello”, “Do you know English”, “Where is XYZ place” and “I am lost” in a foreign language. Just in case you don’t know any of these words, make sure you take a quick learning session from someone at the hotel’s front desk.


Carry a map

What if you don’t know the language? No sweat! Carry a paper map in the local language as it will help you point the places on it and ask the locals to help you with directions. If nothing else, just learn to say “hello” and “need your help” in the local language, and trust us, people will be more than happy to assist you.


Pen down all the important names and address

While carrying a paper map in the local language is useful, making a note of all the important places and address serves useful too. Take help from the hotel concierge and pen down all the important places and addresses so you can show them to a local taxi driver and easily reach places without any problem.


Look for locals who speak English

Either explore a university campus, a library or head to book shops to find locals who speak English. In turn, you’ll get to explore the city like a local and find people you are able to communicate with.


Record your route

You have forgotten the route and don’t know the way back? Don’t panic! Remember Hansel and Gretel retracing their steps using breadcrumbs? Instead of breadcrumbs, make use of your phone’s camera and take pictures of signs, boards and landmarks to retrace your way back.



Smiling always helps! Be it any place, any situation, simply smile and speak politely to ensure you have a great experience in the foreign country.


No more stress thinking about “what if you don’t know the language”. Remember what we have suggested and you’ll be able communicate without making the effort of learning a foreign language.

About the author: A pen, notepad and her imagination–Pritha loves narrating stories her way!