How to Break Down the Language Barrier

From learning tips to linguistic tech, here’s our advice for breaking down the language barrier.

Make the effort.

Okay, maybe you should’ve paid a little more attention in high school French. Never fear—language barriers are a thing, but not enough of a thing to hinder your adventure.

If you want to work wonders for your travel experience and cultural immersion, start by learning just a few key phrases. Some staples to keep handy:


“I don’t speak [language].”

“Where is the bathroom?”

“How do you say ____?”

“Thank you.”

“Have a nice day!”

Feel self-conscious about word usage, pronunciation or political correctness? Stop it. Nine times out of ten, the locals don’t care about any of that. In fact, they love when foreigners make an effort to connect in their language. This action speaks louder than words, no matter how eloquent your words may be.

No excuses.

You may consider yourself too busy, too old or lacking the “natural talent” for the gift of gab. Before indulging these excuses any further, take a look at EF’s EPI (English Proficiency Index), which ranks countries by English skills.


First, you’ll notice your destination is likely a moderate level of fluency or higher, which should qualm all anxiety over potential barriers.

Moreover, notice how much of the world knows English as a second (or third, or fourth) language. Over 70 different nations are on the index. As travelers, it’s our duty to put forth even a fraction of that effort out of respect for our hosts.


The Tech

You can’t return to your high school French classroom on account of that being, you know, really creepy and all. But the window of opportunity is still wide open! Just find a speaking partner who will critique your vocab, accent and cultural nuances. They can also give examples and keep you from developing bad habits.

Thanks to technology, such a luxury is available no matter your geography or years since graduation. Try some of these, and you’ll become a polyglot in no time!



Learn one of 20 languages during your commute with this simple app that is fun, effective, and best of all, free.



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“The pronunciation dictionary” AKA How 2 Sound 2 Legit.



Hone your foreign writing skills with revision help from native speakers around the world.



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 Learn simple phrases to break down language barriers through photo translation, phonetics and lessons to help you become more cultured.