I enjoy learning languages and being able to talk to people when we travel to different countries. The variety of the languages and cultures is one of the reasons we love travelling around Europe but it is also a challenge. We are currently planning trips to Greece, Italy and perhaps Croatia and Spain and Portugal. This means many different languages to get to grips with. The Duolingo app is working well for brushing up my rusty Italian and Spanish [it is a few years since we have been there] and I have used this in the past to refresh my French and German. The app reminds me every day so I keep the habit and I can do just five minutes if it is a busy day or longer when I have the time. But without the Greek alphabet on my phone this app is no use for Greek and so I’m trying other options … but the Greek is hard, not just an unfamiliar language but also a different alphabet. We have found some helpful YouTube videos, I have been using some free apps [WordPower is the best I have found but Bravolol is useful too] and I have created our own flash cards which are the best way for me to learn. Yet it is fair to say that the chances of getting beyond the pleasantries are small.
I enjoy being in countries where I can have more of a conversation with someone who doesn’t speak English and this is why travelling to France and Germany and Austria are so relaxing and fun. I have fond memories of having a long conversation with an elderly woman in Wernigerode in Germany about her display of cross-stitch without every knowing the German for cross-stitch [apparently it is easy and is Kreuzstich] but I could talk about how lovely the pictures were, ask how long they took to complete and tell her how much I admired her skills. In France I was able to deal with the group of people who came flocking to help when the chain on my bike broke dramatically as I cycled up a hill in their village. I have even argued with a rude campsite manager in French, although I learnt than when irked my brain muddles up my entire knowledge of other languages and I spat out German and Italian words along with the French ones to the manner-less manager. I never got to grips with much Polish when we visited this country but found German useful which did confuse Polish people on campsites about our origins; we had a campervan from the UK, I was speaking German but I had a Polish name.