arrow-down arrow-to-left arrow-to-right arrow-up bc-left check delete download facebook google-plus home map menu print search smiling three-lines top-left twitter youtube
June 2018

11 Phrases You Need to Know in Any Language

Learn these phrases and you’ll find your way

People around the world, as different as we can be, are more alike than different. We all need to breathe, eat, and drink. We care for our families and communities, and we all like to have a good time. As different as our languages may be, we are often expressing the same desires and requests, albeit in different ways. Learning other languages helps bridge the gap between cultures and brings us closer together. Questions like “where is XXX?” and “how much does XXX cost?” are common in any language.

Fluency is often an unattainable goal for travelers, especially if you’re only visiting the country for a short while. Getting by, however, is not only necessary for convenience but also for security. Learning a few phrases before departing for a foreign place is a highly recommended practise that can not only increase your safety but also your enjoyment while abroad. But with the countless amount of phrases you could learn, which should you start with?

Mark Abadi, linguist and world traveler, writes for Business Insider that you only need eleven phrases to get by anywhere in the world. Here are his must-learn phrases for visiting any foreign country (read his article for his explanations on why he chose each phrase).

- "Thank you" 

- "Hello" and "goodbye"

- "Excuse me" 

- "May I have..." 

- "How much does it cost?" 

- "Bathroom" 

- "Yes" and "no" 

- "Where is..." 

- "Help" 

- “I'm allergic to..." and "I don't eat..." 

- "Sorry, I don't speak..."

Translate these phrases into your target language and practise them before departing. There are many online resources that can help you perfect your pronunciation if you don’t have a language partner. Forvo, a pronunciation dictionary, is a great choice as it features many audio samples recorded by native speakers. 

To help you remember these phrases in a real-world setting, you can speak them in your head while out in your hometown. Flashcards are also a great idea for memorising phrases. If you’re a smartphone user, the Anki app makes studying flashcards really convenient. You can create your own deck and practise your phrases whenever you have free time.

If rote memorisation isn’t for you, try creating your own mnemonics. These memorisation techniques are useful for remembering characters, phrases, and even entire speeches. As a language learner, you’ll want to put these skills into use as soon as you can.

These eleven phrases are by no means the only phrases you should learn for survival, but they are certainly some of the most useful. It’s also good to create your own list of phrases that are relevant and important to you, especially if you have special needs, such as a special diet, medical needs, and so forth. 

What are your must-know phrases before visiting a foreign country? What are your tips for remembering such phrases? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” TELC English for more language learning articles!