Dear Americans, Please Stop Expecting Everyone to Speak English When You Travel

Dear Americans,

Please stop demanding that U.S. citizens learn English, but refusing to learn another language yourselves.

By no means do I expect the average traveler to become fluent in another language before a trip. However, at the very least learn some basic words. Please, thank you, yes, no, and excuse me to start.

Cuba is the newest hot spot among American travelers. Travelling to a country that has recently become accessible from America is desirable to the adventurous nomad. However, how many of these US travelers speak Spanish? How many are interested in genuinely connecting with the Cuban people? Or are people solely visiting to obtain a retro looking selfie in a vintage car? No need to answer.

According to a 2013 article by YouGov only 25% of Americans speak more than one language.  28 % of Americans don’t even see the value in learning another language and only 13% believe in learning a foreign language before going on a trip.

One of the things I was most impressed by on my first trip to Europe was that a majority of the people I met spoke multiple languages. In Paris and Copenhagen store workers would switch from French or Danish to English with ease. Unsurprisingly, it is compulsory to study a second foreign language for at least a year in 20 different European countries. Meanwhile, I’ve seen reviews on travel sites that give properties low ratings for not having English speaking staff…in countries where English is not the primary language.

Being an English speaker does have its benefits. English is considered a major world language and one of the most useful languages for international business. However, Mandarin, French, Arabic, and Spanish are not far behind.

We live in a world that is greatly influenced by globalization. As the influence of non-English speaking countries spreads those who only speak one language will be passed over for job opportunities.

Start making an effort today to learn a language besides English. It’s as simple as downloading an app such as DuoLingo, Memrise, or Babbel.



P.S. Still not convinced that you should learn a language besides English? Read Chelsea Fagan’s article on ThoughtCatalog for 17 reasons why you should and view this TED Talk by John McWhorter on “4 Reasons to Learn a New Language“.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Cookie G. says:

    I’m definitely up to learning and teaching myself another language. I’m pretty good with Spanish and so-so with Kreyol (Haitian Creole) so I’m glad you listed those apps.


    1. Thanks for reading! I’ve been wanting to learn more Kreyol for awhile but struggled to find programs that taught it. I was so happy when I came across Memrise and discovered they offer a course in Kreyol.

      Liked by 1 person

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