Having recently returned from a holiday to Disneyland Paris something became very apparent. I know very little French. Luckily, in this instance, it didn’t hamper things very much as the majority of cast members at Disneyland are bilingual. But it did pose the question, should I have made more of an effort to learn the language? The answer, of course, is yes!
I shouldn’t be relying on the fact that the country I’m visiting will be able to speak English. In my defence, I did attempt to learn some French by downloading a couple of apps on my phone prior to my trip. I managed to learn a few new words through the app but most of what I know I learnt at school and I’m still unable to hold a conversation in French.
I know the basics, how to say hello, goodbye, thank you, my name is, I live in and I can read/know a few random words such as exit, male and female etc, but that’s the extent of my French language ‘skills’. I will be visiting France again in the coming months (raise your hand if you’re a Disneyland annual pass holder!) and I’m determined to continue trying to learn more of the language. After all, what better way to practice a language than in that country with native speakers.
It turns out I’m not the only Brit who relies on my holiday destination having a good understanding of the English language. In fact, a recent study conducted by Holiday Autos showed the average Brit goes abroad knowing just 8 words and 23% of people surveyed choose to holiday in popular holiday destinations so they don’t have to learn the language.
The study of 1,500 British adults also revealed that French is the language Brits are most familiar with, the average UK adult being able to rattle off up to 15 words. The most common words we make an effort to learn include ‘hello’, ‘thanks’, ‘good morning’, ‘goodbye’, ‘yes’ and ‘no’.
Incredibly, the poll also found 27 percent of Brits make absolutely no effort to learn a language ahead of their holidays as ‘everyone speaks English’. I find this quite astonishing and always attempt to learn the basics when I’m holidaying abroad.
Perhaps unsurprisingly when you consider our lack of language skills, over a quarter of Brits have a funny story to tell about a friend or family member trying to make themselves understood whilst on holiday.
Here’s my holiday mishap story. I was on holiday in Prague with my sister, we were in a shopping centre and headed to the toilets. We heard someone shouting something but not knowing what they said we just kept quiet. When we came out of the cubicles and started washing our hands a cleaner came over and started shouting at us. We had no idea what she was saying. We tried to apologise as best we could and quickly left. The only thing we could think of was that she was cleaning the toilets and we shouldn’t have been in there.
Have you had a moment that was ‘lost in translation’? If you want to see what mishaps have happened to others then take a look at the video below. My holiday mishap doesn’t seem quite as bad in comparison.