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Languages in Europe
Languages in Europe
English proficiency varies greatly across the continent, but tends to increase the further north you get, in the Benelux and particularly Scandinavia most everyone is able to communicate in English with varying degrees of fluency, while in the south and east you'll often be out of luck, especially outside major cities. German-speaking areas are also good bets. Speaking one of the Romance languages will likely help you a great deal in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Romania, while the same is true if you speak one of the Slavic languages in the East.
If you need assistance, look for someone young, under the age of 40 or even better under the age of 30, as this greatly increases your chances of locating an English speaker, although in Scandinavia English is spoken by nearly everyone regardless of age, and many older German,- or Dutch speakers know some English as well. Alternatively hotel staff can be another option, especially in areas where few locals speak English, even if you don't stay at their hotel.
Hiring a tour guide will also help you overcome the language barrier so arrange for one while preparing a trip, especially if you're travelling in groups.
The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about Europe
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Europe Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.