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Tour group at the FDR Memorial
English Plus One More Language Makes You a Translator or Tour Guide
When travelling to another country, it is essential to know the basics of the country’s official language. Knowing the foreign language of the country you wish to visit will help you get around a new area and easily communicate with the locals. In addition to these factors, knowing English and the language of the country you are visiting can also save you a lot of money while travelling.

Learning a language ahead of time is more cost efficient than hiring a translator or interpreter during your trip. Even though you can pay for online language classes, classes at a local school, or a tutor, learning at least the basics of a new language can easily be done for free online. Through multitudes of resources online, you can teach yourself the basics of any language for free. Omniglot.com provides hundreds of English to foreign language translations of commonly used phrases and useful information about the alphabets and writing systems for many languages. Mylanguages.org and ilanguages.org offer many lessons teaching grammar and vocabulary for various languages. Youtube.com broadcasts hundreds of free language video lessons from teachers all over the world. On the other hand, the cost of translators and interpreters can be pricey. Translation services typically charge price by minute or price by hour. In-person interpreter rates can range from $50 to $145 per hour. Phone interpreters can cost from $1.25 to $3 per minute and video interpreters can cost from $1.75 to $7 per minute usually with a 15-minute minimum requirement. If an interpreter is needed for long periods of time during your travel, these prices will surely add up.

Learning the language before you travel to the country you are planning to visit not only saves money but time as well. Say you are travelling to a country and you do not know the basics of the country’s native language. Once you arrive, you realize that you must learn the language in order to communicate. Now you are going to have to spend some time searching for or hiring a translator or interpreter. You may need to take some time finding a teacher, taking lessons, or self-teaching yourself online in order to learn this new language in this country. If you learned the language before your trip, you could spend this time conducting business, sight-seeing, and trying new things. Having a basic foundation and general understanding of the language before you arrive to the country will help you successfully communicate your thoughts. In addition, you will be able to practice and perfect your language speaking skills by talking to native speakers.

Last summer, I travelled to Paris, France with my family. Our very first meal was at a restaurant where the waiters spoke French and very little English. The menus were primarily in French as well with only some recognizable food choices. I realized how frustrating it was to order food and drinks since the waiters could not understand us and we could not understand them. After a lot of pointing at the menu, exaggerated gestures, and questioning looks, we finally ordered our food. Looking back at the moment, I see how useful it would have been to know basic restaurant English to French translations. For something as simple as ordering food, this knowledge could have saved us a lot of time and frustration. A translator or interpreter would have been helpful during this time. But seeing the cost for one’s services and the cost of our travel expenses, hiring a translator or interpreter would have seemed too costly for our budget.

English translators and tour guides can make a decent salary. If you are bilingual or multilingual and enjoy travelling, you should consider becoming an English translator or a tour guide. English translators convert information from one language to English. Translations can be in-person, over the phone, through video or for documents. Pay rates depend on the language, previous experience, time of translation, and type of documents needed to be translated. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2012, interpreters and translators earn a yearly average wage of $45,430. During this year, the lowest paid for this profession was $23,570 and the highest paid was $91,800. Tour guides are people who lead tourists around foreign areas. They provide the history, interesting facts, and stories about certain places usually speaking in different languages. Tour guides typically work for travelling companies and can give tours on foot, on a bus, or even on a boat. The average salary for a tour guide in the US is about $26,020 with salaries ranging from $17,000 to $37,000. Experienced tour guides, however, can make between $30,000 to $60,000 per year and $50 to $150 per day. Factors for pay include experience, location, tour type, tips, and more.

Save money, time, and frustration by learning at least the essential phrases of a language before travelling to a country. Doing so will enhance your travelling experiences. You will be able to successfully communicate with others and you can spend your time having fun and your money on things you enjoy. If you want a job travelling in different places, take being a translator or tour guide into consideration. Learning the basics of a country’s official language before you travel is a decision you will definitely not regret.


Photo Credit: Joe Loong
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