How to Approach Locals Using Common Languages While Traveling

approach localsMany tourists approach locals to see the beauty of a place from a native’s perspective. By using common phrases in the local language, travelers often try to live like a local. Knowing a few basic words and phrases makes you more attractive in a foreign land. Locals find it cute when someone tries to speak in their language. To approach locals, you don’t need a certificate course in a particular language. You only need to spend some time to master a few phrases and useful words and here’s how you can do it.

Put yourself in their shoes

How will you help a tourist find a place when he doesn’t know your language? You will certainly use signs and expect some basic information of what he actually wants to know. In the same way, locals will expect some information to better understand you. If you want them to help you find a place or directions, use signs, maps or photographs to help them understand. If you can befriend them, even an unknown local person can make your travel experience awesome. You will get your problems sorted out quickly if you do this, promise.

Learn honorifics to approach locals with respect

If you’re traveling to a place where language is a barrier between you and the locals, learn some words locals use. Especially the ones they use to show respect to each other. Even when you can’t speak their language fluently, speaking a little in a respectful manner will reflect your personality. Everyone deserves respect and when you’re traveling in their region, try to pick up some local language phrases and words to show gratitude and respect. Learn some basic words like how people use Sir, Madam, Monsieur, Mademoiselle, Madame, Señorita, Caballero and other honorific words in different parts of the world.

Learn to read the mindset of locals

If you want to approach locals for something, try to learn the local mindset first. If you have time before you start your journey, try to read more about the place. Articles, newspapers, and forums can help you. Get an idea of how people use the language to express certain things. Most people won’t have time to help you while you learn. But there are people who’ll love to learn something from you. And they won’t mind helping you improve your language skills. Look for these people. But also try to learn languages before traveling by yourself as much as you can, which might help you in a critical moment.

Improve your nonverbal communication skills

While you can’t do anything about the cultural difference, nonverbal communication is the same everywhere. Some gestures and hand signals are universal. You can learn new skills and improve yours by observing people. You may not be able to catch every single word they are speaking, but observing the nonverbal cues is easy. You can pretty much learn many things by observing what’s happening around you.

Festival season is the best time to approach locals

If you still have time to decide when to go on the next trip, choose a time when people will be celebrating festivals. There will be a crowd during festivals, but for a more connected experience, time your travel accordingly. Festivals are a great way to feel connected to a new place, culture, and the people. Learn some background information about those festivals. Always have admiration for local cultures in your heart. Try to learn some relevant phrases, greetings, and wishes in the local language.

Push yourself a little

The greatest way to approach locals in a new city is to push yourself a little. Allow yourself to explore local areas in different ways. Using public transport may look challenging to you if you do not know the language. But try it and you will gain some new experiences. It not only takes you closer to their everyday life, you will also get to meet new people and make new friends who were total strangers a while ago.

Ask questions

If you want to start a conversation with locals, ask questions. In the internet age, everybody knows that finding information is easier than before. But don’t be fooled by digital data about people and places. The people who live in the place can give you a lot better information than anything else. You can speak to your hotel staff, ask your taxi driver or a friendly stranger to join you for a cup of coffee or tea.

Keep an open mind when you approach locals

Many places are often overrated. Some popular attractions are not the ones where locals spend their time. Same happens when you visit restaurants and places where tourists come often. In such places, the locals you meet are usually busy in their work and they don’t have time to sit and talk to you. If you want to spend some time with the locals, try to visit places where tourists are less and locals are more. Keeping safety in mind, visit places where you can meet the locals easily.

It’s OK to make mistakes

You can’t become perfect in a language in a week, especially when it’s not the language you speak daily. Mistakes happen and people understand that you’re in the learning phase. So making mistakes will not be a big deal. As long as you’re showing respect and know how to be humble (you don’t need words to express everything), people won’t mind. In fact, you might see people appreciating the fact that you’re trying.

Use technology to make friends

If cultural exchange programs are not available, use technology to make friends. You can use mobile applications to find people who are ready to learn from you and help you learn from them. You can also try language learning apps that offer community-based learning opportunities. You can speak to natives and improve your language skills. Here are some benefits of keeping technology handy while traveling.

Do not trust strangers

Most importantly, do not trust strangers no matter how friendly they appear. Always keep checking the local news and blogs to stay informed. Stay in touch with your family and friends, especially when you’re on a solo trip. Connecting with people is easier than you might think. But if nothing goes right and you can’t make friends with locals, remember that someone somewhere will definitely meet you. Maybe on your next trip or maybe on the next day itself.

Image Credit: cbc

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About the Author: Mikkie

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