English and travelling


“I couldn’t inquire further because they don’t speak English”, this sentence caught my attention as a relative talked about his recent visit to South Korea. A few months ago when I was planning trip to Europe I came across several hostel reviews that criticized the places for not having English-speaking receptionists.

Last time I checked, human beings are not born with an innate ability to speak English. Oh I remember! It’s the official language of UN. So what? UN didn’t hold a worldwide referendum before declaring it as such.

The question is why some people expect everyone on earth to speak English?

There are many angles to reflect on this situation but I want to talk about the travelling aspect. People travel across the world to experience different cultures, see how others live, visit famous museums, enjoy the variety in nature, shop, etc. But if at the end of your adventures you haven’t learnt to respect other races/nations for what they are, you might as well had watched some documentaries at home and ordered souvenirs online. Travelling did nothing for you. South Korea is not in England or North America. It is an independent country with a distinct culture. Someone travelling to South Korea should ensure that they think they are well equipped to live there comfortably, not the other way around. They didn’t invite you to their country; so why should the onus be on them to be able to communicate with you?

English is indeed becoming more popular among masses worldwide, but it’s still far from becoming a universal language in its true sense.

So if you travel and can’t communicate because they don’t speak your language the appropriate thing would be to say, “I couldn’t inquire further because I don’t speak ____”

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