When it comes to learning the language a little goes a long way. It can feel alien at first, but having a go and trying to get stuck into the local lingo will usually strike a chord with natives and you’ll often find that people will be keen to help you if you do struggle. In our 2014 Expat Explorer survey nearly two thirds of respondents said that they were using the local language – which we think is pretty good going! If you’re still trying to get to grips with learning another language then not to worry: no one expects you to know everything instantly and it doesn’t happen overnight.
To give you a head start, we’ve put together a list with of some of the most important phrases to know, wherever you are in the world:
Hello, goodbye, thank you and see you soon!
Friendliness and manners can be crucial to making a good first impression. Try to nail that greeting and be ready to follow up with a goodbye when it’s time to part.
“Hola, Adiós, Gracias y Hasta Pronto!” - Spanish
How are you today? How are your family?
Do your best to get to know your neighbours and members of the local community, they will be very useful during your transition – mastering some basic ‘small talk’ will help you to build some relationships even if your grasp of the language is fairly limited.
“Paano kayo ngayon? Kamusta ang iyong pamilya?” – Filipino
It is very nice to meet you!
Again, showing your interest in meeting new people will help you to make a good impression - starting new encounters with a friendly gesture means you’re setting a positive precedent for all future meetings.
“Det er veldig hyggelig å møte deg!” – Norweigan
Can you help me?
Never be too shy to ask for help – the best way to learn about your new home is through the people that have lived there for a long time and if you ask for help in their language they’ll be happy to assist!
“Pouvez-vous m’aider?” – French
Where is the…?
This phrase is endlessly useful, rather than spending hours running round like a headless chicken looking for something – just ask someone where it is! You’ll save yourself some time and who knows, you might just make yourself a new friend along the way.
“Kde je…?” – Czech
This city is beautiful! I love this city.
There is nothing like a bit of flattery. Show your appreciation for the city – if people can see you’re enjoying what their home has to offer it will please them. Keeping an open mind and trying to see the positives, even if things get challenging, will always make a big difference.
“Questa è una bella città! Amo questa città.” – Italian
This tastes delicious! Did you make it yourself?
Showing an appreciation for the local cuisine is another great way of declaring your steadfast intentions of buying into their way of life – not to mention the increased likelihood of a tasty meal in the near future!
“Det smakar gott! Har du gör det själv?” – Swedish
I would prefer to speak in the local language!
If it isn’t made obvious by your wonderful attempts at small talk, publicly declare that you are actively trying to speak their language and they are far more likely to give you a hand!
“Én inkább beszélni a helyi nyelvet.” – Hungarian
Where is the nearest toilet?
This may seem a little silly now, but we’re certain you won’t find it as silly when you’re desperate in the middle of a new city!
“где ближайший туалет?” – Russian
I need a drink!
This phrase is invaluable, whether you’re lost in a boiling hot city - or just want someone to point you towards the nearest pub!
“Jeg har brug for en drink!” - Danish