Best Language To Learn To Travel Europe
Many people ask me what is the best language to learn to travel Europe. I understand that people have a general understanding of Europe as a multilingual place where people speak various languages. So it might cause some confusion when it comes to travelling and language learning. Each country speaks a different language, and if not, it has a strong dialect.
This article will answer your question and give you information about which language you should learn to travel Europe and the most common languages in Europe. If you speak this language, you’ll be fine travelling in Europe.
What Is The Best Language To Learn To Travel Europe?
The best language to travel Europe is German. Simply because it is an official language in 3 European countries (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland). In addition, German people travel a lot so even if you travel to a country with a different language than German, you’ll most certainly meet Germans and will be able to communicate in the language. So German is definitely the best language to travel Europe.
Why Is German The Best Language To Travel Europe?
There are several reasons why German is the best language to travel Europe. Let’s have a look more in detail.
First of all, German is the only language that is spoken in 3 European countries. These are Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Other European languages are only spoken in a single country or a maximum of two countries (French).
Secondly, Germans are everywhere. Seriously, whenever I travel, I meet Germans, even if it’s in the less known European corners or destinations where tourism is still developing. So again, I can speak German even in a country far away from Germany. Germans travel a lot so you can always speak the language.
Moreover, many people, especially in Central Europe, learn German as their second or third language. For instance, it will be easy for you to speak German in countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, or Hungary. Simply because many people learn the language at school. It is also common for these people to learn German for school or work. They have better opportunities for their lives and careers in German-speaking countries, so they all learn German (including myself).
So generally speaking, if you plan to travel Europe, German is definitely the language you’ll use in most countries.
Does German Have Any Dialects?
Yes, it does. Only in Germany (especially northern and eastern Germany), you’ll hear the proper German. We refer to it as ‘Hochdeutsch,’ which is basically the standard German.
In Germany (except Bavaria, the southern part of Germany), you’ll hear a clear and standard German (as you also learn it).
Austria has a slightly different German with different accents. In addition, each Austrian region uses a slightly different accent. For instance, in Salzburg, people have a very strong German accent, which is also widely spread across Bavaria (southern Germany).
Switzerland is is another chapter. The country has the strongest German dialect. Better to say, they have their own Swiss German. It is so strong that it is barely possible to understand Swiss people. However, once you get used to it, you can understand Swiss German or at least assume the meaning. But I don’t want to scare you. You can still speak German (Hochdeutsch) even in Switzerland. However, since Swiss people are used to their Swiss German, you have to excuse yourself and ask them to speak Hochdeutsch. Most people will then switch to the standard German.
In Which European Countries Can I Speak German?
As I mentioned above, you can officially speak German in 3 European countries: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Additionally, you’ll be able to communicate in German in Central Europe and Balcan countries, like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, North Macedonia, and even Albania.
German is the least spoken in Spain, France, and Italy. Even though you can always find people speaking German, these countries are proud of their language and mostly speak their native language.
Which Language Should I Learn If I Already Speak German & English?
If you already speak English and German, learn French or Russian language. French is the third most spoken language in Europe. This is because it is an official language of France and is also spoken in Switzerland (in the French part). French is a common second language for people living in Switzerland, Spain, and Italy. It is not so common for people in Central Europe to learn French as a second language. Don’t get me wrong, many people still learn it, but German is more popular.
French is more popular in southern Europe. And so if you only plan to visit destinations such a France, Italy, or Spain, you might want to consider learning French. It is also one of the official languages in Switzerland. French is widely spoken in the French part of Switzerland, which is Geneva, Fribourg, until Bern, the capital. But many Swiss people speak French since they learn it at school as an official language.
Russian is widely spoken in Central and Eastern Europe and Baltic countries. So if you travel this direction, I highly recommend learning Russian as your third language. You’ll use it a lot, and it will make your travels a lot easier since many people DON’T speak English in these parts of the world, especially in Ukraine.
Best Languages To Learn To Travel Europe: In A Nutshell
You know, we cannot generalize a lot here. Europe is a very diverse place. Even though German is widely spoken, you might be interested in the language situation more in detail. That’s why I would like to give you a quick overview of which languages you should learn to travel to each part of Europe. I’ve ranked the languages from the most common ones to the least used languages in Europe.
English is the most common language in Europe. Everybody in each country has to learn it as their first foreign language. However, you might still find places where people don’t even speak English. It can happen in tiny villages in Central and Eastern Europe such as Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, or Ukraine. If you wish to explore these countries through the off-beaten path, learn Russian.
German is the most common language in Europe, right after English. It’s a widespread second language for people to learn in Central Europe. But as I said, Germans travel a lot, so you’ll be able to communicate German almost in every European corner.
If you like more tips on learning the German language and why it is the most European language in demand, check out my article about the best European language to learn.
French is the third most common European language. It is widely spoken in France, Monaco, and Switzerland as their official language. But you’ll be able to communicate in French also in some parts of Spain or Italy. So, generally, if you want to visit France and Switzerland, learn French.
Russian is a very popular language in Central and Eastern Europe. Many people in Central Europe had to learn Russian during the Communist regime back in the 1960s. And they speak some Russian until nowadays. So if you want to travel to Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and especially Ukraine, Moldavia, Bulgaria, or Romania, you’ll be able to use your Russian skills a lot. Russian is also spoken in the Baltic countries: Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
If you want to learn Russian, read my article, which talks about the best way to learn the Russian alphabet and more resources for Russian learning.
You would be surprised, but Spanish is also quite spread across Europe. Many Spanish people nowadays move to countries like Germany or Switzerland to work. So it is not uncommon to hear Spanish even in Central Europe. However, it is still rare, and you’ll use Spanish mostly in Spain.
Italian is the least spoken language in Europe. You’ll mainly need it in Italy as it is the official language there. But if you are in love with Italy, its pasta, gelato, and pizza, and want to visit the country out of your passion, learning Italian will be worth it. Locals appreciate it when you speak Italian. And if you speak any other European language, you’ll have a better travel experience in Europe for sure. I recently started learning Italian just to explore Italy’s hidden gems next summer. So if you have the motivation, go for it.
Learning Languages To Travel Europe Is A Window For Better Travel Experience
I highly encourage you to learn a European language to travel Europe. It will make your travel experience much more magical and enjoyable. For example, you might visit remote villages and understand locals talking to you about wine production. Or you can speak to your Airbnb host about how he makes cheese in Switzerland. You’ll basically experience travel in Europe differently and uniquely. This is the reason why we learn languages. Because they bring us closer to locals, their stories, and the cultures of each country.
I wish you happy learning, my friend. Let me know in the comments below which language will you learn to travel Europe and why.
More Tips On Language Learning
Learning some European language is a big asset when you travel Europe. German will be the most beneficial for you if you want to travel most of Europe. But I encourage you to choose a language that interests you and you like. The fact that you like how some languages sound or associate the language with your favourite country will motivate you on your language learning journey.
If you want to learn a language for travel, check out my step-by-step guide to do so. Go to my language blog and learn about different methods to learn European languages. You’ll get tips on how to learn vocabulary fast and effectively. Or check out the best gifts for language learners to boost your language learning process. Finally, go to the language resources page, where you can get ideas for the best language apps, best language learning podcasts, best foreign language books, language magazines, or some of the best German audiobooks for beginners.
Check out the best app to watch TV shows in different languages. It’ll help you to learn new vocabulary in context, which is the best way to learn any languge.
If you’re curious about the most useful Eastern European language to learn, check out my article about it.
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