3 Things You Should Have Learned (But Probably Didn't) in A Foreign Language

Whenever anyone decides to start learning a language, there are always certain topics that most people take specific interest in: learning curse words, how to flirt and or use slang to sound cool (am I lying?). That’s all well and good, but how far will those get you when you are trying to haggle or tell a doctor that something hurts? They won’t take you very far, but knowing how to do these 3 things will:
  1. Defending Yourself Verbally. You WILL be made fun of, especially in the beginning when you’re just learning the language. Depending upon your situation (study abroad, etc.), you could even be bullied. Learn some phrases that convey not only your displeasure but that you are not to be messed with. Bonus, if these phrases are witty. One of my favorite beauty bloggers from Suriname, Kluermoi, made a video sharing her “Coming to America” story. She shared her experiences with being bullied in High School as a foreigner and how she taught herself how to fight back verbally. You can watch her story here.
  2. Talking to a doctor. People get injured and sick abroad all the time and can’t even articulate basic concepts like pain or discomfort to a doctor. Pointing at a body part and making weird faces isn’t enough. One of my favorite natural hair bloggers, Dr. Lelia Vazquez of The Hair Lab, who is also a doctor abroad, states it is a nightmare to try to diagnose patients that she cannot communicate with. Especially when there are no interpreters on hand. Do yourself a favor, learn some anatomy basics and a few ways to say something hurts in the foreign language.
  3. Haggling/Negotiating. Often times in western society, the price is the price. There is rarely room for negotiation unless you the unit is defective or you are at a swap meet, flea market or some type of bargain center. In some other countries and cultures, haggling is both expected and encouraged. Learn your numbers, how to ask how much something costs and state prices. Even better, if you could learn some choice phrases like “No. I want this for X amount…” or “No, you got me twisted, I’m not paying that.” Ok, maybe not as far as “you got me twisted”, but you get the point.

While this isn't an all-inclusive list, this is definitely a good starting point for learning things that are imperative for a comfortable stay where the language is different from your own. Between defending yourself verbally and talking to a doctor you could end up saving your own life. Set some study time aside to learn how to do these three things. In order to be fluent, you’ll have to learn eventually. Why not start now?

What are some things you wish you knew how to say when traveling or living abroad? What are some things you already knew that helped you? 

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