Why Learning a Foreign Language is the Ticket to Your Next Flight

Why Learning a Foreign Language is the Ticket to Your Next Flight

Learning a foreign language has its perks. Take it from this multi-lingual Filipina traveller.

Contributed by Shelly Viajera

learning foreign language

While most travellers invest in a trusty luggage or a badass camera, there are those intangibles that are often overlooked. Learning a language, in particular, is a good practice for travellers. It may be as simple as knowing how to say “hello” in a foreign language or as levelled up as getting into a career in languages for more financial stability.

Also read: Do You Speak the Most Difficult Languages in the World?

Here is my take on the advantages of knowing a language for travellers:

It sets a deeper connection with locals

An interesting ride with locals in Bagan, Myanmar while learning a few Burmese words

Trying to speak the language of the country you are travelling to by knowing basic words and phrases may help you a lot. Not only does it save you from getting lost around unfamiliar foreign street signs, but it also lets you connect with the people easily.

Portuguese signs in Macau

Although English is a universal language, there are countries where it is not widely spoken. And even if English is spoken in the capital or in a city, there will always be those remote places that have less or zero people speaking in English.

Adventures with a local in Siem Reap, Cambodia

A small chat with a local in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

The locals appreciate travellers who at least try to learn their language. It bridges the gap to immerse and be one with them. More so, it helps you dig deeper into the culture.

Communicating with the simplest words may be everything you need to be understood.

Earn beyond the basic pay

Corporate wise, learning a language pays a lot. Did you know that a regular employee who knows a language other than the native tongue and English may receive a higher salary? Depending on the company, bilinguals get that extra column in the pay slip for the language premium, an incentive given on top of the basic pay. Since being fluent in a foreign language is not like an overnight skill that one can earn right away, companies are seriously on a hunt for language experts, especially when there is an immediate demand.

Language skill is an asset in the corporate world

In the Philippines, for example, there has been a fast-growing demand for bilinguals in industries like Business Process Outsourcing and Information Technology where one can earn $1,200 (or higher) a month.

“Viajar es la única cosa por la que pagas que te hace más rico” (“Travelling is the only thing you pay for that makes you richer”)

This is why working as a bilingual may help save up for travels without sacrificing the monthly obligations for utilities and other bills. Come to think of this: it is a lot easier to plan travels with an extra money on hand than to swipe everything (a.k.a using Visa or MasterCard).

Chances to be assigned abroad

Reading German while waiting for the delayed flight

In connection with the previously mentioned, knowing languages may serve as your passport to be sent abroad by the company. In the Philippine setup, there seems to be a tough competition in the field of English proficiency. Many speak English in the Philippines already. But if you are proficient in both Japanese and English, for example, you set the difference and cuts you above the rest.

Bilinguals are usually sent abroad to work as interpreters or attend events and training in a foreign language. It is such a unique skill that you are treated as an asset in the business. Companies are willing to spend money on you—pay for your plane tickets, accommodations, food, allowance, and other expenses while assigned abroad.

With your language expertise, you can travel and explore a foreign country for free.

An edge in online jobs

Time management is a key

If you know how to manage your time wisely, you can even get a part-time job using a foreign language to earn more cash. Websites like Upwork and Proz offer language-related freelance work such as translation, proofreading, interpretation and teaching.

A language job done online is definitely a good source of income for travellers since it can be done remotely. All you need is a computer, an internet connection, and your precious knowledge of a foreign language. In fact, I have known some travellers who have considered online jobs as their primary source of funds and they work while travelling.

Bilinguals are usually paid by the hour or by the number of words. Also, the higher your language credentials are, the better you get paid online. Earnings aren’t bad. One can earn at least $300 per project (but note that monthly online earnings vary).

Also read: 10 Practical Ways to Start a Life of Travel

It molds a good travel attitude

learning foreign languageOccasionally, I attend language exchange events via Couchsurfing to practice the languages that I know

I believe that whatever discipline you gain from learning a language may serve you well in travelling.

That big fat P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E is one. Just like any other skill, language takes time to learn. It requires patience in such a way that you have to keep on reading and listening to enrich the vocabulary and continue practicing and talking to improve the fluency.

Patience is a virtue. Reading is a virtue.

Five Languages in 15 Seconds from Shelly Viajera on Vimeo.

Nevertheless, everything pays off and I can attest to that. Through the years of learning languages, my patience has stretched well that it extended to my travel discipline. The challenge as a language learner has matured me as a traveller.

I have learned to be patient with travelling: Patience to score some cheap flights, patience during delayed flights, and patience for the next opportunity to fly.

Also read: How to Score Free Airline Tickets

About Author

Shelly Dimaculangan
Shelly Dimaculangan

Shelly Dimaculangan is a language translator by profession, writer by passion, and traveller at heart. She enjoys solo travelling and getting lost in foreign countries. She is a Filipina who speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and German. During free time, she is a local tour guide to Spanish-speaking tourists. Her long-time dream is to go around Spain. Check her blog at: Shelly Viajera Travel Blog.