Post the pandemic forced hiatus, the world is back up on its feet and eager to travel again. Sitting at home for two years gave rise to ‘revenge travel.’ Out of frustration, people began to take vacations to luxurious destinations to unwind and relax after a dispiriting two years. However, Indians no longer want to have simple touristy experiences, they want to explore places as a local would by embracing the destination's native culture. Language and culture go hand in hand. Understanding the culture of a place greatly depends on understanding the local language. Keeping this in mind, online learning platform, Duolingo released the 2022 ‘Duolingo Language Report’ to understand how many Indians were willing to learn new languages before travelling to new destinations. Knowing the local language of your destination results in a more personal and richer experience with the native culture.
As per the report, 40 percent of the respondents belong to tier 3 cities. This means that the desire and ability to learn more languages is gaining more traction in these cities as well. As a result, Duolingo saw an increase in the number of consumers from tier 2 and tier 3 cities who wish to learn new languages.
Knowing and understanding that language has a huge impact on local culture, Indians are becoming more mindful and conscious while choosing their desired travel destinations. According to Duolingo’s report, 50 percent of the respondents agreed that the destination's primary language is an important factor for them while making important travel decisions. Moreover, 76 percent agreed that relaxation and exploring new cultures are their primary factors for international travel in 2023. There isn’t a better way to experience local culture than its local language.
French is the most popular choice among respondents at 23 percent willing to learn the language before travelling to a destination. This should come as no surprise as French is spoken in more than 40 countries across the globe. Following French, the other popular language choices were German and Arabic. As per the report, 46 percent of the respondents were Gen Z and millennials.
According to Duolingo’s Country Marketing Manager in India, Karandeep Singh Kapany, “To help Indian travellers seeking authentic local experiences, wanting to connect with locals in their native, Duolingo has travel specific easy and basic modules. Duolingo enables a smooth and fun language learning process across several languages, and it is encouraging to see Indians willing to invest time and energy in delving deeper and mastering the art of language learning when planning their next trip. We look at promoting language learning as a culture which opens a whole new door of experiences for all our users.”
Furthermore, 47 percent of respondents are willing to spend time in order to learn a new language before travelling. 20 percent even agreed that they had practiced French followed by German and Arabic before their travels.
As per last years Duolingo reports, Korean was the most popular language choice due to its influence on pop culture in terms of movies, OTT and web series.
Travellers don’t want to learn just a few basic words and greetings; however, they wish to learn enough to be able to have a simple conversation in the local language. This indicates that Indian travellers are leaning towards conscious travel. They want to indulge in socio-cultural experiences of a place in the most authentic way possible.
52 percent of respondents as per the survey, say that they wouldn’t mind accidentally saying something embarrassing in a new language rather than not interacting with any locals whatsoever.
They also understand that for exploring the depths of the culture and not merely ‘getting by’ the destination, having basic speaking skills of local languages is very important. Therefore, during the survey 54% of the respondents said that they would prefer ordering food in a new language rather than going through the pain of relying on printed maps to get around the city.
Additionally, 59% of the respondents said that they would rather travel somewhere where no one speaks their language than getting their flight delayed. This indicates that experiencing new destinations by travellers is preferred over getting stranded at an airport from where they have limited access to the outer world.