The average hoildaymaker will head off abroad this summer, able to speak just eight words of the local language, according to new research…

The study found that French is the language holidaymakers are most familiar with, with the average UK adult being able to rattle off up to 15 words.

Despite millions of people travelling to Spain this summer, the average holidaymaker knows just eight Spanish words.

The poll found 27 percent of travellers make absolutely no effort to learn a language ahead of their holidays as ‘everyone speaks English.’

‘Hello’, ‘yes’ and ‘goodbye’ are the most common words holidaymakers know how to say in a foreign language, followed by ‘thanks’, ‘no’ and ‘good morning’.

Three in ten of UK holidaymakers can ask where the bathroom is and over a third can competently ask for a beer.

An unsavoury one in ten are also capable of uttering ‘I have an upset stomach.’

Of the 1,500 respondents surveyed 23 percent said they holiday in popular resorts so there was no need to make an effort and speak the local language.

A spokesperson for Holiday Autos, who commissioned the survey said: “This research highlights that UK holidaymakers don’t make huge amounts of effort when it comes to learning languages when planning a holiday in country abroad.

“Saying that, if, of those eight words that the average adult knows is ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘good morning’, you can’t go far wrong.”

“For those that want to know just enough words to get by when they head off to sunnier climes this summer, we’ve produced handy language guides that are available online and include top foreign phrases that you can learn while traveling or before you pick up your holiday hire car.”

The survey revealed nearly two thirds of British adults said they were embarrassed that as a nation we make such little effort to learn foreign languages.

But being so limited with the local language has landed one in ten adults in hot water with problems occurring when ordering food and drinks, following directions and settling a bill.

One in ten have lost luggage on holiday and struggled to communicate with the necessary people.

35 percent of travellers claim to start speaking much slower when trying to make themselves understood when on foreign soil and a quarter opt for gesticulating wildly with their hands.

More than one in twenty have even resorted to drawing pictures and one in ten have to rely on their smartphone to make themselves understood.

Over a quarter of holidaymakers have a funny story to tell about a friend or family member trying to make themselves understood on holiday – with 17 percent claiming they still laugh about it.

In fact, the average holidaymaker has experienced three ‘lost in translation’ moments when on holiday.

According to the poll…

  • A gentleman got a surprise in France when he asked for jam to go with his croissant and got a condom
  • One man asked for directions and kept being told the price of a chicken
  • A holidaymaker thought he was asking a waiter where the toilet was, but was actually repeatedly asking where the man’s wife was
  • Another asked for egg on his pancake and got a raw egg
  • One respondent asked for a lemonade and ended up buying a newspaper
  • Another respondent regularly got the French words for rabbit and bread around the wrong way
  • One respondent ended up with a slap around the face. To this day he doesn’t know what he said!

Of those that completed the poll, 35 percent would like to know enough words to just get by when they head off on holiday.


  1.  Hello
  2. Yes
  3. Goodbye
  4. Thanks
  5. No
  6. Good morning
  7. Please?
  8. My name is
  9. Good evening
  10. Excuse me
  11. Tomorrow
  12. The bill please
  13. Breakfast
  14. Can I have a beer
  15. Car
  16. Dinner
  17. Left
  18. Right
  19. Pizza
  20. Taxi
  21. Where is the bathroom?
  22. Where is the hotel?
  23. Can I have a glass of wine
  24. Still water
  25. Where is the hospital
  26. Straight on
  27. Will you sleep with me?
  28. Sparkling water
  29. I have an upset stomach
  30. Moped
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