What's the Best Foreign Language to Learn for a European River Cruise?


 

So, what is the best foreign language to learn if you are planning to take a European river cruise? Is it necessary to learn a foreign language? It might be helpful if you want to be prepared to talk to people from the country you are visiting.

However, regardless of where you travel, you’ll find people who speak other languages that are not considered native to the region being visited. You won’t necessarily need to speak the official language in each country to be able to communicate with its residents.

The native or official language of each region is diverse throughout the European continent. Most countries have their own official language but will often have minor languages that are also spoken.

What are the most common languages spoken in Europe? German, English and French are widely spoken throughout Europe. So, knowing how to speak at least one or two of these languages well is helpful. Where are they spoken? Let’s take a look at each of the three languages.


German Language

German is spoken as the official language or one of the main languages in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and The Netherlands. It is spoken by less than half the population – but is a significant language – in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine.



English Language

English is spoken as a second language by at least 50% of the population in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Russia and The Netherlands. It is spoken by less than half – but is a significant language – in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine.

 

French Language

French is the official language or one of the main languages spoken in Belgium, France and Switzerland. It is spoken by less than half the population – but is a significant language - in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, The Netherlands and Ukraine. 

 

Destinations in Europe

The best foreign language to learn - if you choose to - will depend on where you are travelling. Many rivers travel through more than one country. There are some that will keep you in just one for a river cruise, even though they flow through other countries - the Dnieper, Rhone and Saone Rivers are examples.

River cruises in Europe are often taken on one of these rivers: Danube, Dnieper, Dordogne, Douro, Elbe, Garonne, Gironde, Main, Moselle, Po, Rhine, Rhone, Saone, Seine, and Volga.

Common destinations for European river cruises include Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Throughout all of these areas, there is a lot of language diversity.


Rivers in Europe

Your river cruise destinations will help you determine which language is most commonly spoken. As is true in many European cities, residents are often multi-lingual. However, there is usually one language that is the most predominant.

Danube River

On a Danube River cruise, you’ll travel through all or some of these countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Serbia

German and English are spoken in Germany and Austria. Each country in Eastern Europe has its own official language. Throughout this region, you’ll find people who speak a second or third language.

Best Foreign Language to Know: German

Other Helpful Languages: English and French

 

Dnieper River

The only major river cruise that will take you through Ukraine is on the Dnieper River. The official language is Ukrainian. You’ll find some residents who speak Russian and a few other foreign languages.

Best Foreign Language to Know: Ukrainian

Other Helpful Languages: Russian, English, German and French


Douro River

The Douro River flows through both Spain and Portugal. Although the two countries border each other, they both have their own native language. In Spain the official language is Spanish, and in Portugal it is Portuguese.

 

Douro River in Porto, Portugal Dom Luis Bridge


You’ll find that almost one-third of the residents in both countries speak English and some also speak French. Most people from Portugal do not speak Spanish. And most people from Spain do not speak Portuguese.

Best Foreign Languages to Know: Spanish and Portuguese
Other Helpful Languages: English and French

 

Elbe River

On an Elbe River cruise, you’ll travel through Germany and Czech Republic. The official language for Germany is German; and in Czech Republic, it is Czech. Quite a few people speak German in Czech Republic and some also speak Russian or English.

Over half of the population in Germany speaks English. Some residents also speak French or Russian.

Best Foreign Languages to Know: German and Czech
Other Helpful Languages: English, French and Russian

 

Main River

The Main River is located entirely in Germany. Its official language is German, but many residents speak English.

Best Foreign Language to Know: German
Other Helpful Languages: English and French

 

Moselle River

The Moselle river flows through France, Luxembourg and Germany. Most of the towns visited will be in Germany. The official language spoken in France is French and German in Germany.

In Luxembourg the primary languages are Luxembourgish, French and German. Many of the residents in Luxembourg also speak English.

Best Foreign Languages to Know: Luxembourgish, German, and French
Other Helpful Languages: English

 

Po River

A cruise on the Po River will keep you in eastern Italy from Polesella to Venice. The official language in Italy is Italian. 



 

Less than half of its population speaks any additional languages. Some that are spoken include English and French.

Best Foreign Language to Know: Italian
Other Helpful Languages: English, German and French

 

Rhine River

The Rhine river flows through three countries - Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland. There are four official languages of Switzerland are German, French, Italian and Romansh. Most of the Swiss population speak German as their primary language followed by French and Italian. A large percentage of Swiss people also speak English as their main foreign language.

In The Netherlands, Dutch is the official language. Almost 90% of its population speaks English, close to 70% speak German and French is spoken by about one-third of its residents.

German is the primary language in Germany as previously stated. English and French is also spoken by many living in Germany.



Best Foreign Languages to Know: German, French and Dutch

Other Helpful Languages: English and Italian

 

Rivers in France

There are six main rivers in France that feature river cruises. The most common are:

Dordogne, Garonne, Gironde, Rhone, Saone, and Seine

The Rhone and Saone Rivers also flow through Switzerland, but you won’t travel there on a river cruise.

There are also nine canals that offer river barge cruises in France.

Alsace, Brittany, Canal de Garonne, Canal du Midi, Champagne, Loire Valley, Provence, and Northern and Southern Burgundy

The official language in France is French. Throughout the country, only about one-third of its population speaks English and even less speak German. Since most river cruises will be near major cities, you’ll find a higher percentage who speak English.

Best Foreign Language to Know: French

Other Helpful Languages: English and German

 

Volga River

The Volga River flows through central Russia joining several other waterways along its course until it eventually meets the Neva River in St. Petersburg. On a river cruise, you will travel from Moscow to St. Petersburg. The official language of Russia is Russian and is the most widely-spoken language there. A large percentage of people in Russia also speak English, and some speak German or French.

   
The Best Foreign Languages to Know: Russian

Other Helpful Languages: English, German and French


The Best Foreign Language to Learn

You might be wondering – Do I need to learn a foreign language? What’s the best foreign language to learn for where I will be going?

If you are planning to take a European River cruise, it would certainly be helpful for some of the destinations. It’s really not essential, though, unless it’s something you want to do.
 
On your cruise, the crew members and the tour guides will all speak English. Unless you will be venturing out on your own, you should be okay if you only speak English.

If you want to learn a foreign language, check the destinations you’ll be visiting to see which language is the most common. That would probably be the best choice.
 
In general, the two most widely-spoken languages throughout Europe are German first and then French. So, those would be the best to learn if you’re looking for the most versatile languages in addition to speaking English.

If you would like to learn a foreign language before your European River cruise, there are a few options. You can take online courses, learn from audio, or study from a book.

No time to learn but want to be prepared in case you need to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak English? You can carry a phrase book with you, or you can invest in a mobile foreign language translator app for your iPhone if you’ll be using one on your trip.

 

Resources

Online Language Learning

Learn a Foreign Language from Audio

Foreign Language Phrase Books

iPhone Mobile Apps - Foreign Language Translator Apps


If you enjoyed this article, please share it with other people you think would also enjoy reading it. Thank you! :)




Lauri Wakefield is a travel writer who specializes in  river cruises in Europe and the U.S. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+.

[This page may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.]







About  l  Contact  l  Privacy Policy  l  Terms  l  Disclaimer

Copyright © 2012-2017 ExploreRiverCruises.Com