Is Language a problem?

Old Jul 6th, 1999, 07:05 PM
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Is Language a problem?

My husband and I are planning a European holiday next July (we are in our early 60's), and I'm wondering if we are foolish to plan a trip where we are entirely on our own and speak only English. We plan on spending time in the Munich area, then the south of France, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna, and Prague to Frankfurt, our destination point. (We'll be travelling mostly by train or bus.)
I would appreciate your thoughts on this.
Thank you.
Old Jul 6th, 1999, 07:18 PM
Mary Ann
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Go! You will have a wonderful time. I would recommend doing a search and checking out the "planning" comments since you have the time. We have been several times. Our first trip was with my cousins who were in their 60s we rented a car and drove all over Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Switz. Smiles go along way. We prefer making reservations in advance, and just finished making reservations for this fall for 3 weeks. All the locations, small B&Bs, pensions and small quaint hotels spoke English. Most hotels were 2**. As an american I am almost embarassed when I think how well versed Europeans are with languages. We found previously that Italy was the least patient with us and Germans the most. For the French, pick up a phase book. If you even try the basic words for greetings, food items, etc. most French we found went out of their way to help. Our daughter did a semester in Augsburg, Germany outside of Munich and was taking German. She was disappointed because every time she tried to practice her Germans, the Germans wanted to practice their very good English. It is truly becoming a small world. With web sites and e-mail, especially for hotels, if you have any questions, staff are very responsive. Plan and have a great trip!
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 04:15 AM
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You should go! Do buy a phrasebook for each language you will be exposed to and learn how to say
thank you
where is...
excuse me
do you speak English?
Walking up to people and addressing them in English without asking first = Ugly American.
Bon voyage!
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 05:24 AM
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Please help avoid the "ugly American" syndrome. No one will expect you to be fluent, but by all all means at least make an attempt to learn the basics of each language.

In Germany you will have no problem what-so-ever. Nearly everyone in tourist areas speaks enough English to help you get by. The same is true for Prague. Other areas of the Czech Republic are much tougher. I don't mean to lump all the French together but my personal experience was that they were much less friendly and less willing to speak English. Whether they knew it or not.

Have a great trip!
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 05:46 AM
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AS everyone else has said, 1) Go! and 2) Learn some of the language. You've got 12 months, right? Buy those little tape and phrasebook combos and practice in your car. Even if you can find people who speak English, it's nice to be able to understand signs, etc. Buy Marling Menu-Masters, too.
I found that the Germans who spoke English were the least helpful and the ones who didn't were happy to go through all the pantomiming and pointing at the phrasebook I needed.
Bon voyage.
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 05:54 AM
wes fowler
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Don't let fear of language inadequacies deter you from what will assuredly be an experience of a lifetime! Do pick up German and French phrase books and make yourself familiar with basic terms of politeness and use them freely. (German is understood more so than English in Prague, so really basic knowledge of only two languages is necessary.) A smile, coupled with a "Good morning" or "Good afternoon" addressed to natives in their language will go a long way in making your trip pleasuraable. Many of the travel guide books and all language phrase books contain lists of words for foods that appear on menus. Make "cheat sheets" to assist you in interpreting menus when dining.

By all means, go!
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 07:00 AM
dan woodlief
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I completely agree with the above who suggested learning some of the basic phrases. You will basically only be dealing with three languages. However, let me put your mind at ease a little more. While it is definitely a good idea to learn some of the local language, countless thousands have travelled to and enjoyed Europe before without an iota of foreign language knowledge. So just try, and if you butcher the language, most will understand, and you will still have a great time.
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 10:39 AM
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Old Jul 7th, 1999, 11:30 AM
Martha B
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You can't learn to pronounce another language very well from a phrase book, but you'll probably find a selection of language tapes at your local library. Check out several before you decide to buy a set. Don't worry about mastering grammar; concentrate on the phrases Francesca suggests, plus hello and goodbye. You can easily learn those stock phrases before your trip, and knowing even a little of the language of the country will make you feel more comfortable. Plus, you can't imagine the thrill it is, when you finally say that phrase you've been practicing, and someone actually understands you!
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 12:05 PM
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1)on your own is great. You have 'adventures' that you wouldn't have if you were with a tour (like conversations with locals/natives on the train or bus or buying food in a supermarket - thank heavens for labels with pictures) and you tend to wander off the beaten path and discover incredible vistas or parts of cities you wouldn't see with a pre-arranged tour. It's also uplifting when you find out you can do stuff (like figure out how to flush the toilet).
2)try to learn a few phrases; nothing like trying to wrap your tongue around sounds to find out how amazing humans really are (try Maltese for larynx aerobics).
3)you will find out how really important Charades can be...
Old Jul 8th, 1999, 04:17 AM
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Old Jul 9th, 1999, 04:11 PM
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I've been to Europe several times on both tours and traveling on my own. I actually prefer traveling on my own. Except for one trip to Spain where we rented a car, I've always used the Eurailpass. It's great because you can decide at the last minute where to go since you can just hop on and off the trains wherever you want. (although the last few times I did buy the Cook's timetable before going to Europe). This is especially great since sometimes the place you've picked out to go to isn't so great when you get there and you move on to somewhere else. Or you find someplace that you were only going to stay a few hours and end up staying a couple of days. Almost all towns have tourist offices (often in the train stations) and you can get a room through them (which I find easy since they speak English at the tourist office). To use this service, I try getting someplace by 5 pm and don't move on to someplace new on Sunday (although in peak tourist season many of the tourist offices are open on Sunday.) As many of the other responses have stated, you do a lot of pantomining and pointing to communicate - or even hold conversations with you speaking English and the other person speaking German or whatever.

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