For 20 years, Samantha Brown has traversed continents, experienced culture, and tasted adventure applying her…
How To Get an Easy Language Lesson at the Grocery Store
Visiting a foreign country & need a quick language lesson?
Don’t worry, I got you covered. I’m sure you’ve been there, traveling in a foreign country where you don’t exactly speak the local lingo. Because you are an informed, worldly person who is respectful of new cultures, you invested some time in learning the local language basics, like hello, goodbye, please, thank you and sorry, I don’t speak [insert language here]. You practice and practice and practice, envisioning yourself speaking clearly and confidently with the locals.
Once in you’re in said destination, you check-in to your hotel, then decide to venture out into this new, exciting place. You find a charming bakery where you hope to order a coffee and pastry and soak up the ambiance. However, when the cashier asks you a simple question, you freeze. What was hello again? How do I say I don’t speak French?! Ah, crap! You get flustered, blush and start gesticulating wildly, hoping to get your point across.
You eventually get that coffee, but you feel foolish. Why couldn’t you recall the right words in the moment of truth? The good news: the more time you spend in a new place, the more comfortable you’ll get with the language.
One great way to expedite that process? Head to the grocery store.
This Post Has 7 Comments
Love Samantha’s tips. It is so true. When we visit Germany we always make a trip to the store to brush up. We speak German but if you don’t use it all the time you loose it. Great tips. Keep them coming.
Haha! This is great if you’re in a western country, but when I was in China, I found the grocery store to be super confusing. It didn’t help that I was allergic to soy and couldn’t eat the majority of the food they carried anyway. However, I do enjoy going to restaurants that have photos on the menu. What easier way to decide what you want to eat?
Too funny. My first time in Paris I had the same experience in a boulangerie – wanted coffee and a croissant, utterly froze, but of everything the gal said to me I recognized the word for raspberry (framboise). And nodded. I make a point of going to markets everywhere now!
Great great idea, I learned that when I was in Japan on a youth exchange and my host mother sent me to local supermarket. the the staff was nice to take list and show me were things were but I asked them to tell me name in Japanese
So very true. Our first trip to Italy was intimidating, but after a few more we went to the grocery stores and were able to pick up words and phrases and recede a lot of help. Proscuito crudo vs cotto, cooked or raw ham. We felt this is the way to learn the language.
This is a very good tip to apply consciously, especially as almost all of us go to supermarkets in other countries by necessity and don’t use the experience as a language lesson. It even works when you know the language but the food is a little different. Once I went to a supermarket in Trinidad and found “chocolate digestives.” Me, being an American, would never refer to what look like chocolate-covered tea biscuits as “digestives.”
Good advise! I also learned on my first trip to an Italian grocer, do NOT touch the produce! A ninja produce worker came up and popped my hand while I was touching a tomato. A lesson quickly learned ????