In an earlier post, I talked about the importance of learning a little bit of the local language before visiting another country. Not only is it the respectful thing to do, it also saves you from embarrassing misunderstandings or spending your entire holiday communicating through pointing and exaggerated mimes.
A few years ago, I visited Lithuania for a weekend. It was for a one-off sporting event and was therefore likely to be my first and last time in the country. I didn’t need to become fluent in Lithuanian, but thought I should make an effort (particularly given where I work!) so I spent a bit of time using Talk Now before I left, learning the words for ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, ‘hotel’, and a few others. This allowed me to greet people, explain to taxi drivers where I wanted to go, and thank the staff in restaurants and shops in their own language. It wasn’t a lot, and there was still some pointing and gesturing required, but I felt better about myself and the locals seemed to appreciate my efforts.
I recently learned the story of how the idea for EuroTalk came about. One of our founders, Dick Howeson, was on a business trip in Hungary, waiting for a flight. He desperately needed to use the bathroom, but unfortunately, instead of pictures, the airport had used the words for ‘male’ and ‘female’ on the doors. This was a small problem for Dick, who didn’t speak any Hungarian, and had no way of knowing which was which. Unluckily, the airport wasn’t very busy at the time, and he had to wait twenty minutes for someone else to come along, so he could see which door they used.
At the time, a lot of people had been asking Dick for a language program specifically for business people, but his experience in Hungary made him realise that those travelling for work needed to start with the basics just like everyone else, rather than going straight to learning the words for ‘invoice’ or ‘contract’. That’s why EuroTalk software starts by teaching you the essential first words you need to get by – including ladies’ and gents’ toilet!
Our newest iPhone app, uTalk, is based on exactly the same thinking. It’s free to download and gives you 15 words in 25 languages (with lots more on the way). And not only that, it also contains all the EuroTalk games you know and love, plus some new ones, to help you remember them. If you decide you want to learn more, there are upgrades available to unlock loads more vocabulary.
So if you’re planning your summer holiday – or a business trip – now is the perfect time to download uTalk, and wherever you go, you’ll be prepared.