You may have seen my posts about TEFL tourism which was the focus of my PhD research, where the tourist teaches English as a foreign language. This week I bring to you a different perspective about language learning while travelling. This post is written by Jamie, who emphasises the importance and value of learning the local language while you travel the world!
What is your favourite part of traveling? Is it experiencing new things? Showing off on social media? Eating new cuisines? Meeting new people?
These are all really amazing reasons to travel – I mean, quite frankly, I don’t know of any bad reasons to travel. However, I think there’s a part of travel that’s largely missing in the tourism and travel blog industries: language learning.
I mean hey, don’t get me wrong: I love that hotel experience and am probably incredibly jealous of your Instagram. I can’t wait to eat authentic sushi in Japan and see the world’s largest waterfall. However, I think that an important part of travel is often overlooked – understanding other people and the way they are. foreign languages teach us much more about the world, its history, and its people than you’d think. For example, there’s a ton of Spanish history to be discovered when you learn the language, like all the cultures who have conquered Spain over time.
There’s also something to be said about being able to speak a foreign language to a local when you’re out in the world. While English is the international language, and more often than not you’ll find that the locals around you can make their way in English, being able to speak in the local language can afford you perspectives that you’d never be privy to otherwise. Above all else, locals will be over the moon that you took the effort to even try, and will likely treat you in kind. Besides that, there’s much to be muddled in translation, and sometimes it’s difficult to get certain messages across languages; if you’re asking about a local tradition, for example, it might be hard for your local to explain themselves in a way that you can understand.
In my opinion, if there’s one thing one should take away from their travels, it’s perspective. We live in a global world, and it’s every individual’s responsibility to understand it as best they can and to share their knowledge. I believe that one of the biggest issues our world faces today is a lack of understanding. For example, while Americans’ greatest fear is to find themselves in a dictatorship, I’ve spoken to Chinese people who are quite content living with a dictator, and are more afraid of democracy than anything else. What does this mean? American media can use China as propaganda to scare Americans away from certain political ideologies, just as China can.
If there’s anything to take away from this, it’s to make an effort to love and understand your fellow human. We face cultural and language barriers all the time, but when we make an effort to reach over that barrier and understand the other side, we’re faced with appreciation, humanism, and a newfound understanding of people and the world. We’re all humans, after all!
Bio: Jamie is a 20-something who’s fascinated by cultural differences and foreign languages. She loves to see life through another perspective, and uses Crashed Culture to write about the differences between cultures and to inspire others to learn foreign languages.