A friend of mine just returned from France, where she stayed with friends who own a lovely chateau there. Her friends have spent every summer there for the past seven years, but, amazingly, the wife speaks virtually no French!
My friend was shocked. She herself had studied French a bit and knew enough phrases to get by. But her female pal couldn’t so much as order a bottle of water or tell a hostess how many people were in their party. For someone who clearly loves the country and considers it a second home, this seemed like a huge oversight.
It’s one thing to visit a country and not know a word of the language, forcing others to speak English to you. It’s another to go nearly a decade without bothering to learn the simplest of phrases. Imagine how much this woman is missing out on!
I myself have forced myself to pick up some important phrases for my trip to Asia next month. It’s not just polite etiquette—it will also serve me well and help me be a more confident and independent traveller. With so many language guides and apps out there, why not make the effort?