Arguably, the biggest challenge tourists face when traveling to a non-English-speaking country is communication. While immersing oneself in a new culture is a big reason why many people travel. Without a shared language, basic tasks like finding transportation, ordering food, or exploring the surroundings can become daunting, not to mention the challenges it poses for urgent or emergency situations.
Some travelers are more comfortable only visiting countries where English is the primary or official language, but for those who don’t want to be limited by language, international education company Education First (EF) has released results of a comprehensive study that ranks the top 10 countries with the best English. EF’s English Proficiency Index analyzed data from 2.1 million non-native English speakers in 111 countries to determine which countries have the most proficient speakers.
10 Non-English Speaking Countries To Travel To With High English Language Proficiency
According to the study, an estimated 2.5 billion people across the globe speak English. Researchers acknowledged that “English is the most widespread medium of information exchange the world has ever known. At no previous time in history has a third of humanity shared a language.”
The popularity of the English language, along with modern technology that makes communication between cultures and locations possible is undoubtedly a good thing for tourists who only speak English. Tourists will, however, encounter more locals who have a good grasp of the English language in the following countries:
All of the countries in the top 10, along with Croatia (#11) and South Africa (#12), fell into the “very high proficiency” category. English speakers in these countries are able to understand nearly everything they read or hear with ease, can express themselves spontaneously, and use appropriate language in social situations.
Which Countries Have Low English Proficiency?
Who came in at the bottom of the list? Popular tourist destinations with “low and very low proficiency” include:
English speakers in these countries can likely introduce themselves, understand simple signs, and give basic directions to foreigners. If traveling to any of these countries, tourists should prepare themselves for additional challenges when it comes to communication.
10 Countries To Travel To Where English Is The Primary Language
For travelers who aren’t up for the challenge of navigating a culture where English isn’t well-spoken, there are still plenty of exciting destinations to explore where over 80% of the local population speaks English. The following locations are great options for tourists who want to stick to English in their travels.
Tips To Overcome Communication Barriers
Regardless of where you are traveling, it is always a good idea to prepare for communication challenges. As a courtesy, we recommend making an effort to learn appropriate greetings and simple phrases in the local language. Most guidebooks and travel websites have suggestions on appropriate words and phrases along with pronunciations.
In this booming age of technology, there are also plenty of tools tourists can use to navigate language barriers when traveling. Popular language learning apps like Duo Lingo and Babbel can make learning a new language easy and fun and provide an enjoyable way to prepare for foreign interactions.
It is also a good idea to have Google Translate or other translation apps installed on your phone. Google translate offers some very useful tools – the camera, text, and conversation functions. When using Google Translate’s camera function, you can point your camera at a sign, menu, or any other text, and it will translate it into your preferred language.
The text and conversation tools allow users to type or speak or type their native language, and it will translate it into the preferred language. With a little preparation, both the camera and text functions can be used offline.
Traveling to a non-English speaking country can certainly cause anxiety for tourists who are not prepared. But with practice, patience, and planning, it can also be an incredibly rewarding experience.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com