Essential German 3

German directional words and phrases…

In Essential German 2 we added “Where …” questions – if you’re looking for the bathroom, a pharmacy, public transport, a bank/ATM, etc.
Asking such questions in German – especially if you have practiced your pronunciation a bit – may let your conversation partner assume that you understand German quite well.
The result will be an answer and a stream of words that will fly right by you.
So asking the person to speak more slowly could be your first reply in such a case: “Könnten Sie bitte langsamer sprechen!”
And it would be good to also know some basic directional words and phrases in German – left, right, straight ahead – as the typical answers may well include them.

Why These Phrases?

In Essential German 1 and 2, we listed greetings and typical “where is…?” questions. Even if you have never studied German before, it will be useful to learn and practice saying them.
In Essential German 3, there are only two sentences you may want to practice saying: “Could you please speak more slowly?” and “Many thanks for your help.”
The other 11 phrases and sentences will be useful to understand as you receive answers to your “where is…?” question. You still may want to record yourself saying them, so you can confirm, what you thought you understood- and – you’ll also remember them better that way.

The Next 13 Phrases

Food, Drinks, Restaurants

Finding a recommended restaurant, Café, or bar has been made much easier with GPS equipped smart phones and mobile devices.
Once you have arrived at the place, you may have to ask for a table and the Menu, place an order and then ask for and pay the check.
Knowing a few German key phrases will make all this much easier.
You’ll find them among the next 14 Phrases in Essential German 4.
(Check back with us in a few weeks!)
If you are used to the 15-20% tips, generally expected in US restaurants, you’ll be pleasantly surprised: In nearly all West-European countries tips are included in your check.
But for good service 5-10% tips are always welcome.

Essential Italian 2

Asking “Where is…? questions in Italian…

If you’ve already learned and practiced Essential Italian 1, you’ll be ready to tackle the next 12 Italian essentials.
These are words and phrases that’ll help you ask “Where …” questions – if you’re looking for the bathroom, a pharmacy, the next bus stop, the next subway station, or the railway station, a bank , an ATM, or the Tourist Information.
And being in Italy, you may also want to know where you could find today’s open-air market.

The Next 12 Phrases: Where is…?

Getting around in Rome

Rome is a wonderful city to walk. But there’s also a good, user-friendly transport system for getting around. Figuring out what to take to get where you want to go can be part of the fun and adventure of visiting an interesting city like Rome.
Rome’s Subway (Metropolitana) has 3 lines only (A, B, and C), which cross the city diagonally. By metro you can get to many of the city’s top attractions.
The network of Bus lines is much more extensive: 338 day buses and 22 night buses. By bus you can reach almost any part of the city.
In addition, Rome has 6 Tram lines, but these don’t go to the city center or the main tourist stops. The one line we frequented during our stay in Rome was Line 8, which connects Torre Argentina and Trastevere. (We had rented an apartment in the old Trastevere district.)
To go to the Fiumicino Airport (it’s official name now is “Leonardo da Vinci Airport”), you can take the Leonardo Express train (14 euros in 2019) from the Termini Railway Station. There’s also a bus service, which is cheaper, but takes longer.
Rome’s other airport, Ciampino Airport, is used by many of Europe’s discount airlines. More info about how to get to both airports from the City you’ll find here.
There’s also Rome’s Urban Railway (Ferrovie Urbane) with 3 lines. The Rome-Lido line takes you to Ostia Antica.
Rome Vacation Tips has a good summary of Rome’s public transport options.

Pickpockets on Busline 64?

Every guide book about Rome will warn you about pickpockets. We never became a victim ourselves during our five months in Rome. However, they indeed do exist.
I once prevented such an incident in the crowded bus #64, which goes from the Termini Station to the Vatican: When I saw a man trying to slide his hand in the back pocket of the man standing beside him, I gently took hold of his arm and pulled it away. The pocket picker quickly slipped away as the victim turned around with a questioning look. At that time my Italian was not good enough to explain, and I just smiled.

“Where…?”-Questions Answered…

Asking “Where”- questions in Italian may let the person you are asking assume that you speak Italian.
The result will often be an answer and a stream of words you’ll probably not understand.
It would therefore be good to know some basic directional words and phrases in Italian – left, right, straight ahead, etc., and a way to say: “Please speak more slowly.”
So check out Essential Italian 3 and learn some of the possible answers..

Essential Spanish 2 (for Spain)

Asking “Where is…? questions in Spanish…

If you’ve already learned and practiced Essential Spanish 1, you’ll be ready to tackle the next 12 Spanish essentials.
These are words and phrases that’ll help you ask “Where …” questions – if you’re looking for the bathroom, a pharmacy, a bus stop, or the subway or railway station, a bank , an ATM or the Tourist Information.
And being in Spain, you may also want to know where you can eat good Tapas…

The Next 12 Phrases: Where is…?

Getting around in Madrid

Note that Madrid has an excellent transport system for getting around the city. Figuring out what to take to get where you want to go can be part of the fun and adventure of visiting an interesting city like Madrid.
The choices are the metro, with its 13 lines and over 300 stations, Buses, the EMT, or, if you want to venture out a little further, the Commuter trains, known as cercanías.
You can take either one from the airport into the city, and this Public Transportation link, gives you even more information.
During our one-week stay in Madrid several years ago, we took full advantage of the Madrid Card, to visit the Prado and many of the other museums and sights.

“Where…?”-Questions Answered…

Asking “Where”- questions in Spanish may let the person you are asking assume that you speak Spanish.
The result will often be an answer and a stream of words you’ll probably not understand.
It would therefore be good to know some basic directional words and phrases in Spanish – left, right, straight ahead, etc., and a way to say: “Please speak more slowly.”
So check back soon for Essential Spanish 3.

Essential Italian 1

Italian polite phrases & greetings…

Travelers visiting Italy can learn and practice 50-100 essential words and phrases here. We’ve posted the first 11 below. Listen. Record yourself. Play back and compare.
Over the next few weeks we’ll add more essential Italian words and phrases.
For those who’d like to learn more, we’ll recommend other resources. (under development)

Learn and Practice Tips

  • Click the black arrow to hear the Italian speaker.
  • Click the red dot once to record yourself, click the black square to stop recording.
  • When you click the black arrow again, you’ll hear the native speaker and then yourself.
  • Do it several times until you sound like the Italian speaker

Why learn these Phrases?

Whenever you travel to a country where you don’t speak the language, you’ll encounter situations when these words will be useful. 
Let’s say, you’ve ordered your first meal in a restaurant in Italy and as the waiter serves you, you say “Grazie”.
Even if the waiter knows that you don’t speak Italian, your effort may make him smile …
And beyond “Please” and “Thank you”, basic greetings really are the staple of first words you should know in any country you visit.
And we start with the most obvious and easiest ones: “Yes” and “No”. We end with asking whether your conversations partner speaks any of the languages you may also speak.

The First 11 Phrases

Walking in the country side…

While there’ll be many opportunities to use basic greetings in Rome and other large Italian cities, knowing them when you’re outside of a city is even more important.
As we always notice when we walk in the countryside or in smaller towns, greetings are common and even expected!
Being a visitor in Italy will make you much more welcome, when you make the effort to greet people in Italian.

The Next 12 Italian Phrases: Where is…?

In the next installment – Essential Italian 2– you’ll learn to ask where the bathroom, train and metro station, bank, pharmacy etc. are located.
Even if you have a GPS enabled smart phone, it won’t tell you where the bathroom is – and you’ll certainly find plenty of opportunities to ask other “Where…?” questions. It’s also often a good way to start a conversation!

Essential French 2

Asking “Where is…? questions in French…

Learning the first 11 French words was quite easy, right? Did you record yourself and work on your pronunciation?
And did you notice that very important French phrase?
“S’il vous plaît”, for “please” – literally: “if it pleases you”. You’d use it, if you’re not on familiar (“tu”) terms with your conversation partner. (If you are, you would use “s’il te plaît”. )
And now -as you’ve already learned and practiced Essential French 1, you’re ready to tackle 12 more essentials.
These are words and phrases that’ll help you ask “Where …” questions – if you’re looking for the bathroom, a pharmacy, a bus stop, or the subway or railway station, a bank or an ATM.

The Next 12 Phrases: Where is…?

Asking “Where…?” Questions in French

You’ll have noticed that you can use both “Où se trouve… ?” and “Où est… ?” to ask “Where is..?”. The first is slightly more elegant, but that’s it.
Note that in French, it’s polite to always use the plural form (literally) “Where are the toilets?”
And, a little grammar note: to make a question out of “je peux” (I can), you say “puis-je ?” (“Peux-je ?” is not used, which is good because it’s harder to say.) So, “Where can I find…?” is “Où puis-je trouver… ?”

“Where…?”-Questions Answered…

Asking “Where”- questions in French may let the person you are asking assume that you speak French.
The result will often be an answer and a stream of words you’ll probably not understand.
It would therefore be good to know some basic directional words and phrases in French – left, right, straight ahead, etc. and a way to say: “Please speak more slowly.”
You’ll find these and other directional words and phrases on Essential French 3.

Getting Around in Paris

The public transport system in Paris is quite extensive. In 2019 a Métro ticket cost Euro 1.90. You can use it not only on the Métro, but also on the RER lines and on buses.
Like in many other large cities, you can also purchase multi-day tickets for tourists which allow you to visit various sights as well, and avoid long lines. You can just buy a carnet of ten tickets as well. The ticket machines take some time to get used to.
A good site for learning about the options and to figure out what works best for you is Paris for Visitors.

Essential Icelandic 2

Asking “Where is…? questions in Icelandic…

If you’ve already learned and practiced Essential Icelandic 1 you’ll be ready to tackle the next 12 essentials.
These are words and phrases that’ll help you ask “Where …” questions – if you’re looking for the bathroom, a pharmacy, a bus stop, the harbor, a bank or an ATM.
You may also want to know, if the person you’re talking with speaks German, French, Spanish, Italian, or English – one of the languages you may speak as well.

The Next 12 Phrases: “Where is…?”

Getting Around Reykjavík and Iceland

Reykjavík has an excellent bus system, if you want to explore the city and its attractions.
Ferries and overland buses take you to other parts of the island. But maybe you prefer one of the offered tours or rent a car to visit the numerous waterfalls, lakes and hot springs on the island .
Reykjavík has several bus terminals, depending on the company. In small towns all buses typically stop at the main gas station.

“Where….?” Questions answered….

If you have practiced a lot , asking “Where…?”- questions in Icelandic may let the person you are asking assume that you speak Icelandic.
The result will likely be an answer and a stream of words you’ll probably not understand.
It would therefore be good to know some basic directional words and phrases in Icelandic – left, right, straight ahead, etc. – especially, if the person who gives you directions does not speak any English.
You’ll find the next 13 phrases in Essential Icelandic 3.