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Many travel books teach us what to pack when we go on trips. Do not forget warm clothes, do not forget a first aid kit and bottled water. Do not forget your American Express card. They never ever seem to tell us not to forget a phrasebook. A phrasebook? Yes, a phrasebook, and a dictionary and a translator. That is if you are going to a non English-speaking country ( of whom there are plenty).
I have met many people who complain about the language barrier in a lot of countries they go to to find girfriends, etc. "Oh, I could not talk to the girls, I do not know the language!
Can you imagine? They had to audacity not to know English and not to adjust themselves to me, a visitor from a Superpower!
Yet, on my travels I rarely saw a guy or a gal sitting on a plane or anywhere else and holding a phrasebook or a dictionary in hand and/or studying what's in it. It is their business of course, and I am not going to judge them for as being lazy or arrogant or anything, but I seem to be the only one in years upon years and miles around who takes the trouble and the time, and spends the money on buying a phrasebook and a dictionary. But phrasebooks and dictionaries are miraculous tools at overcoming the barrier and establishing language communication in environments where English is not spoken.
I was once in Taiwan and no, I could not speak Chinese because I was there only for one week or so. Yet, I had a Japanese dictionary ( Yes! Japanese and it had Chinese characters in it). I was able to find words in it ,written in "Kanji", and point to them, and managed to spend a night at a karaoke with two Taiwanese girls where I was able to explain myself with signs and a Japanese book! Why can't other guys do that? Imagine if I actually bought a Chinese phrasebook and a dictionary!
You really need very little to communicate and now you have all thes electronic translators where you can type whole phrases and an approximate phrase in a target language comes out. Still with all the recent inventions, I have not seen more than a handful of people anywhere using them. They are out there, buy them! You will be able to overcome the barrier much more effectively.
Buy phrasebooks, dictionaries and translators. Do not leave home without them!
A brain is a terrible thing to wash!