phrases to know in your host language
My most commonly used phrase by far and the saver of many awkward situations.
"I'm so sorry"
This one proved particularly helpful as I endeavored to use a wider range of phrases and absolutely butchered them. Particularly good when combined with "I only speak a little French."
"Hello" / "Goodbye"
Make sure you're using the most courteous version of this phrase. For example, in France, it is always followed by "Madame" or "Messier." Old fashioned, yes, but respectful which very very rarely goes amiss. Note that different times of day may call for different greetings and farewells and collect a few of those as well.
"No, thank you."
For the flyers shoved in your face, the waiter who offers you sugar, or the determined local trying to ask you out.
"I only speak a little *host language*."
This lets your hosts know that you really are trying, perhaps understand a little, and don't expect them to cater to your language.
"Do you speak *your language*?"
For when all else fails or you need very specific directions or instructions.
Another vital phrase as you begin to learn more and find yourself the recipient of a torrent of words you don't understand because they believe you know more of their language than you do.
"My friend is returning soon." / "I have to go meet my friends."
Whether you're traveling solo or with friends, these two phrases can go a long way to keeping you safe or helping you get out of a sticky situation with grace.
"I don't know..."
Add all manner of words to the end of this one to expand your language skills. Or simply
"What is this?"
Another vocabulary builder and very helpful at fish markets.
"I don't understand."
Because sometimes (read often) you won't. And that's okay.