Brits abroad know none of the lingo

by Jessica MCILHINNEY on April 20, 2011

The average Brit abroad will know less that 10 phrases in the native language of the country they’re visiting, according to a new study. Of the 3,000 people polled about their foreign holiday plans this year, the vast majority admitted that they would barely be able to say anything in the language of their host country.

The study found that the typical British tourist knows around 10 French words, six Spanish words and just three Italian words. Most worrying was the fact that more than half of those interviewed would not be able to properly order a glass of wine or beer in a restaurant, while another one in six would be unable to ask where the hospital is.

According to the Sheila’s Wheels survey, a massive two-thirds of holidaymakers refused to learn the local language before heading out on trips. Jacky Brown, a spokeswoman for the insurance company, said the results put British holidaymakers to shame, especially as Germany, Italy, Spain and France are all frequently visited by people from the UK.

Ms Brown added that although English is the most widely spoken language in the world, it is often considered rude when we go to other countries and expect everyone to understand us. She went on to say that tourists will be in danger if they are unable to communicate during an emergency.

Although a fifth of the people surveyed said Spain is their favourite holiday destination, the average person could only conger up around six words or phrases. Most people were able to do the basics, such as ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’, but hardly anyone could ask for a doctor or explain that they are lost.

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