Though many education abroad programs are located in international cities, don’t expect locals to speak English. It’s safer to assume they don’t.
In many western European and metropolitan Chinese cities, you may find directions written in English and even come across helpful employees and residents who are happy to converse with you in English. You might find it wise to invest in a phone app or pocket translation dictionary appropriate to the country you’ll be visiting.
Download and Learn
There are a number of intensive language learning software programs out there.
You can also download a number of translation/dictionary apps to your smart phone or device. You can find many by searching the Web and asking other students who have traveled abroad.
As you spend time in your host country, attending class and meeting people, you’ll likely pick up more words and phrases. In many areas where exchange programs are located, you’ll find local coffee shops hosting language-learning corners. Other international students and ex-pats will probably be able to point you to other helpful language resources as well.
If you plan to take taxis while abroad, try having a local (or a visitor who is fluent in the language) jot down the names of the places you want to visit. Save photos of sites you’d like to see or screenshots of maps on your device to share with your driver.