I always find it amusing how, as in many aspects of life, people on holiday tend to get into their own little routines. Similarly to having ‘your place’ at the dinner table or on the sofa at home, families on the beach on holiday began to claim ‘their place’ on the beach. This meant that, roughly, you were sat near the same people day in and day out. I absolutely loved this as it allowed us to become friends with those around us, which was lovely as the majority of the people who were staying in our hotel were nationalities other than English; predominantly French and German.
The family who we tended to be sat right next to came from Berlin, Germany and spoke very little English. My family (particularly my Mum) can speak a little bit of German, but hardly anything above basic conversation level, such as ‘my name is…’ and ‘how are you?’. So with that in mind, it seems hard to believe that we made friends with this family and were able to communicate with them. But we did and it was lovely. The family consisted of a Mum, Dad and a little boy and girl who were roughly about 7 and 4, and over the course of the 12 days we were there, we fed fish together, we joked with one another and wished each other well each day.
The main form of communication we used were facial expressions and gestures.
Simple things such as the Dad of the family rolling his eyes in an exaggerated way when his little girl was crying because her brother had splashed her in the sea, or us smiling whilst holding out some bread to the children and pointing to the fish in the sea to show them they could come and join us if they wanted to.
All it took was a little bit of thought to plan out how you could communicate your meanings in a clear way, but most of the time it was natural anyway.
It really highlighted to me how, yes, of course learning other languages is important (and is a lifetime goal of mine to learn at least another one). But similarly, language doesn’t have to be a barrier that stops people from conversing if they don’t speak the same one as each other; communication exists in all shapes and forms, and with a little bit of effort we can communicate with absolutely anyone.
There were many fantastic aspects of the holiday, it was genuinely one of the best holidays I have ever been on (MASSIVE thank you to my amazing parents for organising it), but being able to communicate with individuals who spoke a completely different language, without language being a barrier, was such a lovely experience. Especially with the world as it is today, so fragmented with many people being hostile to individuals who are different to them, it was heart-warming to be able to share jokes and make special memories with this family from Germany, and I hope they cherished the experience just as much as I.