Knowledge of a second language, or better still, the ability to converse in the local tongue while on a gap year abroad, can be an invaluable safety tool, but often the excitement takes over and many forget to take adequate safety measures.
In the current climate of terrorist conflict and continued unrest in certain parts of the world, the government and the travel industry are taking extra precautions. Airport security has increased notably, baggage controls have become much stricter and people are being urged to travel in groups, refrain from visiting politically unstable places and register all travel plans with appropriate British authorities.
Peggy Lohmann, spokeswoman for Rosetta Stone said: “Being able to speak the local language, even if it’s only basic phrases, automatically puts you ahead of the pack. It increases your confidence in the sense that you know that you will be able to understand and follow instructions in an emergency situation, you will be able to read directions and will be in a position to explain your situation to local authorities much more proficiently.
“It is wrong and dangerous to assume that everywhere British residents travel, they will be able to get by with only English. That is not the case and in some places, such an assumption is likely to cause offence.
“It is common knowledge amongst locals in many of the less developed parts of the world that police in those areas are not English educated. Therefore, it is also common practice to perform the so-called ‘language test’ on tourists. Should they fail to understand a basic question, they are deemed a perfect target for petty crime, as even the local authorities will not bother investigating a claim that they cannot understand.
Young people in the UK are not being offered enough opportunity to learn a foreign language. In 2004, the government ceased compulsory language education for students past the age of 14, meaning that upon finishing school most graduates have no knowledge of any language other than English.
Peggy continued: “Since schools are not providing this opportunity, it is up to parents to help their children gain these valuable skills that will benefit both their future career and social development, and help them stay safe when traveling. It can be as easy as providing them with a computer and a Rosetta Stone box set, so they can learn at home at their own pace.”
Other Rosetta Stone tips to stay safe on your gap year abroad:
• Obey cultural and religious rules and customs
• If only learning language basics, ensure you know the terms for any medical conditions you have
• Always carry ID and personal details, like blood type and any strong allergies
• Know how to get in touch with emergency services
• If accepting employment, do research on the organisation to ensure it is reputable
• Adhere to travel advice regarding unsafe areas
• Understand how much you should pay for things and know the exchange rate
• Leave your travel details and itinerary with family or friends
• Don’t accept invitations to homes or hitch rides from strangers, no matter how helpful and friendly they appear, or how desperate and tired you are
Rosetta Stone language learning software is available as an online option or box sets can be purchased from the website - www.rosettastone.co.uk or www.amazon.co.uk and is available in 30 languages.
Tel: 0207 612 1830
Tel: 0207 612 1830
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