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Important Survivial English for Travellers
March 14, 2011


March marks the beginning of Spring and I am happy to say that it is finally getting warmer here in the south of Spain.

I'm also happy to announce that I will be making "It's English Time!" avaliable to everyone tomorrow afternoon!

Watch your inbox for an invitation to get your own copy!

Also, I was able to celebrate the warmer weather with two of my good friends from Canada (who came to visit me last week). Their visit inspired this newsletter actually because I realized how difficult it can be to travel to a place where you don't speak the language.

Saying hello, greeting people, asking for the bill, ordering lunch, getting a taxi and even just making small talk with people becomes quite difficult.

My friends had a great attitude though and didn't mind using hand gestures, miss-prounouncing words and being adventurous when they had lunch (every meal was a lottery...what would they be eating next).

So with this in mind I wanted to focus on survival English for travellers in this newsletter and more in the future.

Asking basic questions and greeting people is where we are going to start.

Let's look at an example of how two people might greet one another at the airport.

Travis has just flown from Canada to Spain to visit his good friend Diana, who has come to the airport to pick him up.

Travis: Hey Diana! How are ya?

Diana: Hi Travis. I'm great. It's so good to see you. How was your trip?

Travis: The flight was great. They fed us three times and I got to watch 2 movies. I am a bit scared of flying so I was nervous when we took off and when we landed but other than that it was great. So...where do we catch the metro from?

Diana: We aren't going to take the metro buddy. I drove here. I parked in parking lot B so we have to go that way. Let's go.

Now, let's look at some of the expressions and vocabulary that come up (appear) in the dialogue above.

How are ya?

This is a great question to ask how someone is doing. Here are some other variations. How are you? How are you doing? How's it going?

I'm great.

This is a positive response to the previous question. You could respond in hundreds of ways (depending on how you feel). I'm fantastic. I'm tired. I'm cranky. I'm bored. I'm nervous.

How was your trip?

Here we are asking about the trip and trying to get more information about the experience. You can use this question to ask about many different things. How was your morning? How was breakfast? How was the meeting? How was the flight? How was lunch? How was the party?

I got to watch 2 movies.

This is a great use of "get" which means that you were able to do something; in this case you were able to watch 2 movies. You could say that "I watched 2 movies" but when you say "I got to watch" it focuses more on the opportunity to do so. I got to meet Madonna. I got to visit Granada. I got to sing in a play.

I am a bit scared of flying.

We use the expression "a bit" to mean "a little". It has a weaker or less direct meaning than saying "I was scared". I was a bit hungry but I waited until lunch time to eat. I was a bit tired but I stayed up until 1am. I was a bit annoyed but I didn't say anything.

To take off

This is the action that a plane performs when it gains speed on the ground and then moves into the air. Planes need to go quickly in order to take off. I like it when planes take off. My friend gets nervous when planes take off.

Where do we catch the metro from?

To catch any form of public transit means to take it. I catch the bus at 9am. I caught my plane in the morning. I almost didn't catch my train.


A friendly word for someone you know well or have a good relationship with. Travis has been my buddy for over 10 years. I can always talk to my buddy.

Let's go

This expression can be used to encourage others to speed up/hurry up (do something faster) or to just start doing something. Let's go have a coffee. I've been waiting for an hour, let's go! Let's go to the park.

So there you go...some simple and useful expressions to help you when you first meet someone at the airport.

Next month Travis and Diana will go to the parking lot and talk along the way. What new and useful expressions will they use?

You'll find out in April's newsletter. ;)

All the best,


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