Scandinavia is such a beautiful region that can offer you unique travel experience. You have probably read about its culture and fun tourist activities. The pictures of its incredible nature and impeccable architecture must have intrigued you and evoke the desire to see it in person. The only thing that can be holding you back is the language. Here you can read how to deal with language barriers while traveling to Scandinavia.
No matter whether you are traveling to Denmark, Norway, or Sweden, the language can seem very difficult to learn. If you are questioning your decision to travel to Scandinavia because of the language barrier, your dilemma will now be solved. Here are a few handy tips on how to conquer the language barrier on your trip to Scandinavia.
Learn a Few Basic Phrases
Everyone can learn the basics. Phrases such as “Hello”, “Bye”, “Where is the bathroom”, “Where can I find a restaurant”, “Can you help me”, and similar can be sufficient for travelers.
Knowing the basics will help you gather the most important information. Even if you don’t have the talent for learning languages, you can cope with these few sentences.
To ensure that you won’t forget them in the time of need, write them down. However, write the phrase how you would pronounce it, not how it is written in the native language. Since you don’t know how to read their spelling, it won’t mean anything.
Have these phrases on your phone because that’s the one thing that you’ll probably always have by your side. Whenever you need it, just pull out the phone and you’ll be all set.
Use Visual Cues
People communicated way before language was formed. If they could do it in the past, why can’t we?
Don’t be ashamed to use visual cues in order to explain what you want to express. Everyone can understand hand gestures and pointers.
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Of course, you won’t be able to completely explain what you want but it can get you some answers. For example, if you are looking for a bus station just point at the bus on the road or show the local a picture of a bus station.
What is most important is that you are resourceful and innovative. It can be useful if you have a paper map with you and ask the host to mark your place of stay. Just in case if you get lost at some point you can show the locals where you are staying and they can direct you there.
Carry a Pen and Paper
If you don’t know how to explain with gestures and you don’t know the language, there is another solution – sketch it. The idea may seem silly at first, but once you realize how helpful it can be you won’t question this method.
Have a piece of paper and a pen by your side at all times. When a situation occurs in which you can’t explain to the locals what you need, use the pen and paper to draw it.
“I learned this trick from a backpacker I met a few years ago. He told me that a pen and paper got him out of confusing situations many times. Since then I follow this advice religiously,” shares Amanda Willis, a translator at TheWordPoint and passionate traveler.
Related: How to Schedule Learning Swedish
The pen and paper can have another useful purpose. Give them to the local so they can sketch out the road which you need to take when you ask for direction.
If you are good at Pictionary, you will be great at this. This may not be your first choice for expressing yourself, but the more options you have for coping with language barriers the better.
Buy a Prepaid Sim Card
Those who are staying there for a longer period of time should consider buying a prepaid sim card. This can make your life so much easier.
Prepaid sim cards will give you access to the internet and consequently, you’ll have all the info in the palm of your hand.
Sim cards in Scandinavia are a pretty good deal and it will definitely be a money well-spent. Look at it as an investment in a better travel experience.
Look for a Telenor, Telia, or 3 shop stores. They are mostly situated in the city center. Ask the receptionist or your apartment host where you can buy a prepaid sim card and get that done the very first day.
Use Voice Translation
Once you get your internet activated, it is time for you to meet your new best friend – voice translation.
While you are still at home download a voice translating app. Here are a few options:
All you need to do is to speak in your phone what you want to ask or say and the app will automatically translate the sentence in the target language.
However, the most popular voice translation option is Google Translate. Those who don’t like to deal with apps can just go with the well-known Google feature. Type in what you want to say, translate to the target language, and play the translation to the local. Or, simply make the voice input and get it translated.
Carry a Pocket Dictionary
It is time to go old school. Before cell phones completely altered our lives, people would rely on dictionaries as their language helpers.
Just in case if you use all the battery on taking amazing shots, buy a dictionary. Pocket dictionaries are especially great for traveling. They don’t take too much space and they won’t make your bag heavy.
Dictionaries can serve as a back-up. As great as technology is, it can sometimes fail us. That is why dictionaries can serve as a safety net for communication purposes.
Find travel dictionaries in your local bookstore or buy them on Amazon. The prices are very affordable so it won’t hurt your budget. Check out the following examples:
How to Deal with Language Barriers while Traveling to Scandinavia – Conclusion
As you can tell, there are several resourceful ways that will help you conquer the language barrier. Remember that you shouldn’t focus on the language, you should focus on wonderful experiences and amazing people you will meet along the way.
How to Deal with Language Barriers while Traveling to Scandinavia is written for Daily Scandinavian by Erica Sunjaro. Erica Sunarjo graduated from South Texas College majoring in Marketing and Creative Writing. Her career is channeled towards several skills. She works as a professional writer, translator, and editor. Currently, Erica is a copywriter at BestWritersOnline. She writes thought-provoking articles for publications in a variety of media and actively participates in many translating projects.