|Quoting Killjoy (Reply 83):|
But... that was my whole point. Just how much time do you want to spend learning the language of every country you travel to? It's completely impractical for more than one or two countries.
Common sense is important. You have to concentrate on languages A) of importance and B) you like . To give you a practical example, a visit to Barcelona, an absolutely tremendous city. But quite many people there do not speak English or French. My Spanish is the famous 20 words plus a bit, and rather Castilian than Catalan. In such a case you have to limit the use of such a language
A) to people who apparently do not speak one of your languages (which is legal ! )
B) to simple and short statements --- do not ask questions, as you would fail with the answers
C) make it clear that your conversation ability is zero --- to "stammer" makes no sense
another example Italy. In spite to what was mentioned above, quite many people even in Milano, but even more so in places like Bergamo, Como, Varese, Lugano, Locarno, etc are NOT speaking other languages in a useful way. I can speak Italian in a way that I can order things in restaurants, go into a hotel and speak about the price, speak about the price in a shop, ask for the way, etc etc BUT no conversations
and this is an important point. Do not go too far. Know your limits. Only talk if you can make a short statement. If you are stammering, tracing for words etc, it is of no use. And when speaking, do not care too much about the grammar. Either you have got it BEFORE or not, but you cannot do so at the moment you are in touch with people.
And then, you can expect people in the Benelux to speak either English OR
German, but you cannot take anyone of these three for granted. Be aware of the point that many older people in the Netherlands still DISlike German, that many people in Belgium Flanders, while speaking French perfectly well, prefer English.
People in cities like Budapest and Prague very often speak German OR
English. In downtown rather German, at the airport rather English. If you are fluent in both languages, make the OFFER "Deutsch oder English ? " In Turkey, the favourite is German, with English widespread but often rather meagre.
My favourite school-teacher fluently spoke and wrote German, French, English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Russian. A business partner on Cyprus (of Italian-Egyptian origin) speaks and writes Italian, Arabic, English, French, German, Turkish, Iranian and Greek. Neither of them suffered under having learnt these languages. The teacher had a profound understanding for the cultures and the histories and the realities of the nations in question, and so does the businessmen.
True enough, learning languages IS
time-consuming, but it is N O T wasted time.
But again, know your limits, and be realistic.