Many years ago, I moved on from speaking pidgin English slowly in a loud voice as a means of communicating when in non-English speaking countries. I needed a new strategy. As languages was never a strong attribute I tended to concentrate on body language and hand gestures … with the odd strategic word. Mind you the ‘odd strategic word’ was often close but not the right one. Like asking for dessert at midnight rather than in a minute (minuit/minute). Or rather than asking for a draught beer, asking for the beer to be served quickly (pression/pressé) … and then taking an age to drink.
I find if you’re not ‘frying your brain’ trying to think of the right word, tense, sentence etc. you can more easily spot if you’re on the same wavelength with the person you’re trying to communicate with. Having said that my much improved French and a smattering of Italian words has helped.
Having spent most of our time in Italy so far, Kath has done a lot of the talking. Her Italian is much better than mine! However I often initiate the conversation with an eclectic mix of English, French, Italian and occasionally the odd Gaelic word (not sure it helps!) before Kath comes to the rescue with at least a reasonable chance of understanding the Italian replies.
It can sometimes be frustrating if you’re hot, tired and just want something (i.e. toddler mode!) but most of the time it’s challenging and fun ‘having a go’ at the language of the country you’re visiting.
I swear I’m going to use the Italian word ‘prego’ loads when I get back to UK, it’s just such a useful word.
Hvala (Croatian for thanks).