Once you have the money, visas and time off booked, what’s stopping you from taking that trip? New research suggests that language barriers are still a huge obstacle to people deciding to travel.
A survey, carried out by booking site Hostelworld.com, found that 10% of UK adults say language barriers prevent them from travelling abroad; which could be up to five million people. That number rises among younger people aged 18-24, where 15% feel discouraged due to a lack of knowledge about the local language.
Sixty-two per cent of respondents said they wished they were better at speaking other languages and had plenty of reasons for doing so. Primarily, they wanted to become more deeply immersed in the country’s culture (38%) but also to meet new people (24%) and 21% wanted to use new language skills to help them get off the beaten track.
Twelve per cent of respondents say they got embarrassed trying to speak another language because of the amount of misunderstandings they reported. Twenty-one per cent said they had gotten lost on their travels due to a language barrier, 20% of people said they found it difficult to order food, while 9% had even gotten on the wrong train, bus or even plane!
Japan is the top country that travellers say a language barrier is off-putting. Twelve per cent said they would visit the country if they spoke the lingo, with Spain and China coming second and third respectively.
Hostelworld commissioned the survey to coincide with the release of a new translation feature on their app, helping travellers translate 43 languages with your phone. In total, they surveyed nearly 8500 adults across UK, USA, Spain, France, Italy and Brazil earlier this year.
As well as Hostelworld’s new translation feature, there are some other potential solutions to help you out of awkward situations with a language barrier:
- Dash Pro wireless earphones: These futuristic earphones will translate 40 languages in real-time straight into your ear and is the first such invention on the market.
- Iconspeak t-shirt: Forget apps; this t-shirt is the simplest translation system around. Simply point to what you’re looking for on your shirt and let sign and body language do the rest.
- Chatbots: The rise of artificial intelligence is coming to learning a language. Duolingo announced last year they are including chatbots in their popular app, allowing people to get almost-real-life experience conversing before they hit their destination.