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Trouble With The Language...

Discussion in 'Travel advice' started by Cookie, Dec 13, 2015.

  1. Cookie

    Cookie Member

    So, I'm quite shy. I am really looking forward to visiting India, but I'm stressing about getting by on a daily basis, as I struggle with languages. My itinerary is nowhere near finalised yet, but I'm wondering if I should be basing it on sticking to areas where English is more widely spoken. Is that realistic? It's hitting me just how ignorant I am about India - I hardly seem to know anything about it... :(
    hellotraveler likes this.
  2. Banji

    Banji New Member

    I am pretty sure that you will be safe by speaking English. Most touristy places all over the world, actually, speak the English language. If you are unfamiliar with it, I doubt you will be wandering off to places that are off the beaten path.
  3. amelia88

    amelia88 Active Member

    I've travelled to a lot of countries around the world where English is not the spoken language. It's not too difficult, really - it's amazing just how far you can get with acting things out in terms of trying to get someone to understand you! Also, I'm surprised at how many people know at least a bit of English, even if it isn't their primary language. I've always been able to be understood enough to get by! :)
  4. Dune Dude

    Dune Dude New Member

    I don't believe that I've ever travelled where at least someone didn't speak English. But Amelia is right - you can basically communicate by hand and feet. It's a bit of a struggle, but it's also fun. You learn some native words in the process.
    amelia88 likes this.
  5. amelia88

    amelia88 Active Member

    That's right! You do learn a lot in the process of trying to communicate with someone - it's a bit like an impromptu language lesson! And yes, it's definitely fun - challenging, but I've had a lot of laughs trying to communicate certain things to someone when neither of us speak the same language. It makes for some good memories, that's for sure!
  6. Jackie

    Jackie Member

    I've been concerned about this, too, but I believe English speakers have a definite advantage here as most non-English countries speak English as a second language.
  7. Dune Dude

    Dune Dude New Member

    Not necessarily. I have some German friends who travel worldwide, who don't speak English. I've asked them if they have trouble getting by, and they say, "Not at all!". So, some things are just universal, and you can pretty much communicate your intentions without words.
  8. arthnel

    arthnel Member

    Hey @Cookie I can't tell you enough how fine you're going to be. I had a little bit of that fear as well but it turned out to be great. Indians are also aware of the difficulty in understanding their language. They love to slow down and use gestures if they think you don't understand. English is also very wide-spread so you 're bound to find a guide or someone to help you get the language anywhere you end up.
    hellotraveler likes this.
  9. djordjem87

    djordjem87 Member

    Your shyness is a bit of a problem but not a real problem. When I tried to speak with people who didn't speak any of the languages I did I used hands, objects, paper and pen and whatever I manage to find around me. Since you said you are shy it may not be a solution for you. I am not sure that you will use Indian language for daily routines. It is more likely you will use English because it is wide spread and spoken by majority of people everywhere. Try to communicate and interact with people. From what I heard, people from India are very hospitable.
    arthnel likes this.
  10. freddi

    freddi Member

    If you take a phrase book and make a point of consulting it then people generally see that you're making the effort to try and will do their utmost to help you. I've had that happen to me in quite a few different countries - to the point where they've taken the book out of my hand to look up how to tell me the answer to my question in English! Or you could always get a translation app on your phone... ;)
  11. Jackie

    Jackie Member

    I'm surprised to hear that. I have family from Germany and the kids all learned English in school. I know all non-English speaking countries don't speak or teach English, but many do. Of course, I wouldn't actually rely on that. When you're going to a foreign country with a foreign primary language, I think you should at least attempt to speak with the locals in their native tongue...
  12. Stacy

    Stacy New Member

    I'm a shy person too, but don't allow shyness to keep you away from having fun. You will do just fine speaking english, most people like accents and you can make friends easily but don't allow shyness to make you lonely
  13. Cookie

    Cookie Member

    Aw, you are all so kind! I wish I had more self-confidence... :oops: I'm hoping that going travelling will bring me out of my shell a bit. I need to try and remember that even if people do laugh at my terrible attempts to communicate then it doesn't really matter, I'm not likely to ever see them again!
  14. hellotraveler

    hellotraveler Member

    This is a great question. I was wondering if I would have to pick up Punjabi or Sanskrit words and phrases before attempting to go, but from what it sounds like here I would be ok just visiting and speaking English?
  15. JKewe

    JKewe New Member

    I have ALWAYS been shy, and when I first started traveling with my group of friends, I used to stand back and let them do all the talking when we were in a non-English speaking country. It was only when I started traveling alone that I had to force myself to speak, and it turned out to be really fun! Yes, I did say everything wrong, and people laughed at me now and then, but after they heard me making the attempt they would help me. It's actually a very good way to make friends!
  16. arthnel

    arthnel Member

    I'm not an expert on 'overcoming shyness' but I can tell you that early in my life I was more reserved than shy. I was usually the last to speak and I sat at the back of everything from classes to church. Traveling helped to build my confidence and I know other people who have had the experience of opening up to life and being able to jump in with great things to contribute. Th Indian culture, like so many others, will draw on your inner spirit. You will find yourself just engaging with the people, trying different drinks and foods and even dancing as if nobody was watching you. Travel has many of these benefits.
  17. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    I think India has one of the highest English speaking population in the world. In fact, I read before that almost 26% of its population speak English as their second language. So getting by as a tourist who only speaks English probably won't be a problem as much. I won't worry about sticking to areas where English is mainly spoken. Most of them have a good grasp of the English language anyway. Besides, you can always have an Hindi-English dictionary at hand and use sign language to communicate with others.

    And I think, when you're in a foreign place, you're bound to at least lose some of that shyness. You will have to talk to other people especially if you're travelling alone. Though you need to do so with caution, of course. Regarding not knowing anything about India, that's why this forum is here for us! You can learn a great deal of information about India here. Good luck!:)
  18. rz3300

    rz3300 Member

    When I was there a couple of years ago speaking English was pretty easy to get away with, so if you are shy about learning a new language and do not want to come across as a certain sort of way then I think you should be fine. I did happen to be with someone who spoke the language though, so that might have given me a sort of safety net that most people do not have that allowed me to free up some worries though. I am pretty sure that you would be just fine.
  19. Andre

    Andre New Member

    I know a lot of people from India and most of them speak really good English. I don't think you'll have any problems there speaking English. If the person you're dealing with doesn't speak English I'm sure that another person will and can help you out.
  20. swalia

    swalia Guest

    India is a country where English is widely spoken. So language is not going to be much a problem for you. You will find someone or the other who can communicated in English.
  21. tabby

    tabby Member

    All these fears are actually just in the mind. You'll be surprised that when you're in the foreign country, you'll soon realize that all those obsessing about certain things actually don't matter as they rarely even come out during the trip.
    Whether you're shy or not, I think it's just natural to feel a bit hesitant as you're going to a country with an entirely different culture, and probably a different language. But that's the beauty of traveling, you'll learn so many things and might even surprise yourself at what you can do while in the foreign country. I'm sure the survival instinct will come in, and what I experience, locals normally are willing to share what they know. THAT said, you should be fine. Don't worry about it.
    Oh, from experience, locals rarely ever give much focus on whether your communication skills are good or bad. (I'm sure, they themselves will have the same hesitation as regards speaking the English language. That should level the field.)
    But really, don't fret. You should be fine.
  22. jigisha

    jigisha New Member

    India is a huge country with its diverse culture and langauages. But there is only one language that keeps them united, which is english. The national language of India is hindi, yet in some parts of India people don't know hindi but they know english. So anyone travelling to India will not have a language problem if they know even a little bit of english.
    Don't worry you'll definitely enjoy your trip to India, a land of beauty!
  23. Rezonate

    Rezonate Member

    I think that's part of the fun in traveling is getting to know part of the language and the culture. I wouldn't be so worried I'm sure you'll be fine With simple gesture with your hands. I'm also pretty sure that some will speak a little english. But if you want you can learn a little Indian before you travel. There are a lot of great books and courses on how to learn the Indian language
  24. Nita

    Nita New Member

    I think you'll be fine. I have a few Indian friends and they all speak English. I think there will be plenty of people around India to help you out. Don't be afraid to ask.
  25. Cookie

    Cookie Member

    Thank you jigisha! That is partly my worry - that there are a number of languages spoken across the country as a whole. I would try to learn some phrases but I there seem to be lots of languages I'd need to learn them in...and even then I'd be worried that I was using the wrong one.
  26. No need to be afraid of people! People in India are generally helpful, especially if you are from a foriegn country! I suggest you try to learn a bit of Hindi but even people in villages nowadays know English as their second language. Or at least you will be able to find someone who can translate for you.
  27. rz3300

    rz3300 Member

    When I was over there the people were very very welcoming and accepting of my struggles with the language. Just like any places that you go, they appreciate the effort, and if they see you trying to adapt to their way of life they will make sure that you get what you need. It is the people that assume they will adapt to them that struggle, trust me on that one.
  28. pwarbi

    pwarbi Active Member

    Just because your shy and might have a problem with the language barrier, I definitely wouldn't let that put ypiboff from traveling to anywhere, and especially not India.

    As others have said already, English is quite widely spoken and I don't think you'll have too much trouble making yourself understood. One thing I would say though is at least show that your trying to learn their language, and don't just expect them to start speaking English just because you 'insist' on it.
  29. jnorth88

    jnorth88 Active Member

    The big thing is to not be stressed. Nothing about travel should feel like a burden. You are going to have fun, a wonderful time, and form many great memories. Getting worried about details, the language, or anything else is just going to ruin your time. There are many English speaking Indians. They love tourists and are used to them. And, most of the things you do to get by day to day, buying food, getting transport, are basic in any language, and can be handled without even speaking.
  30. Geena

    Geena New Member

    I personally don't think language is a problem when it comes to travelling. That would be taking the magic out of travelling for me. It thrills me to be lost in translation because that's when we really put in more effort to connect with one another I think.

    But to answer your question, I would say not to worry at all as you'll find so many that can speak English very well. I've also met many who could speak additional Hebrew, Japanese, and French as well.

    You're going to be just fine with just English. Trust me :)
  31. knitmehere

    knitmehere Member

    Something that may help you out a lot is to take someone else with you who might not be as nervous about learning new things. Though you'll be fine speaking just English in nearly all tourist locations, it's always nice to have someone with you who is a little less anxious about things.
  32. Gargi Kale

    Gargi Kale Guest

    Language is not an issue in India. If you are well verse with English then you can easily communicate everywhere. or you can hire Tour Escort or local guide who will explain you all in English.
  33. integrity101

    integrity101 Member

    Many Indians speak English, at least some passable form of English that you can understand, but you won't experience the best of India by confining yourself to an English speaking corner of the diverse country. Get around and learn a few common words and phrases such as "shukran" for thanks and you'll definitely enjoy the trip.
  34. rajesh

    rajesh Member

    Well, you don't need to be shy at all. Although English is not our native language but I ensure you that you will have no problems communicating here in India because most of the people here know the English language and they tend to speak English with the tourists (specially the travel guides). You can visit India without any language-related troubles. ;)
  35. Maja

    Maja Member

    You don't have to worry about learning their language because I'm sure that they'll be able to understand you. A lot of them speak good English so I'm sure that communication will not be a problem. But if you still want to learn some words or phrases, which I think is a good gesture, I suggest that you make sure that the language that you are trying to learn is the one spoken in the area that you'll be visiting.
  36. OursIsTheFury

    OursIsTheFury Member

    Haha well, I'm quite shy too. That's why I plan on backpacking through Europe and Asia next year. To get out of my comfort zone and, hopefully, meet a lot of new people. It's like a fish out of water, but eventually you will adapt to the new surroundings. Why not try learning as you go along your journey? You can't expect to be multilingual in a day. You gotta practice at it day in and day out with someone who knows the language naturally, as I have learned the hard way: you can't truly learn a language if you just base your knowledge on a book or video. You need an actual person to talk to you in conversation using their language, and you do it regularly.

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