In “The Light Fantastic” by author Terry Pratchett, Twoflower was a tourist who believed “that anyone could understand anything he said [if] he spoke loudly and slowly.”
The problem is, even if you speak very slowly and clearly, you cannot make someone understand a foreign language!
There is a simple solution, though, and it is used by tourists around the world: Speaking English.
Wherever you go in the world, even if you do not speak the native language of the region, you can probably find someone who speaks English. That is why English is so important for people who work in tourism.
English has become an international language.
Do you already have a job in the tourism industry? Knowing tourism English will make it easier for you to communicate with other people and do your job better.
Are you interested in working in the tourism industry? Knowing English can help you get a job in tourism since it is an important skill for these kinds of jobs.
Why would you want to work in the tourism industry? Well…
Why Work in the Tourism Industry
What exactly is the tourism industry?
A tourist is someone who goes to see or explore a place that is not their home. The people who help tourists are part of the tourism industry. Jobs in tourism include:
- Hotel jobs, like a receptionist or manager.
- Airport and airplane jobs like a ticket seller or a flight attendant (the person who helps and serves people on planes).
- Event organizer or concierge, who is responsible for helping tourists get tickets for events and transportation.
- Transportation jobs, like a taxi driver or a chauffeur (a personal driver).
- Local entertainment jobs like a tour guide or restaurant worker.
That is just a small list…there are lots of other kinds of jobs in tourism!
Working in tourism is great because there are so many possible jobs, there are often chances to grow and get promoted. As long as people keep traveling, there will always be tourism jobs.
How Tourism English Differs from Regular English
English is used by people all around the world, so it is important to know the language in tourism jobs. When you meet someone from a different country, you can usually use English to understand each other.
Tourism English is a bit different from regular English:
- It is more polite and formal. Since your job is to assist (help) the tourists and other customers, you should use language that shows respect.
- There is a lot of repetition. Many tourism jobs repeat a lot of the same vocabulary and statements. For example, if you work as a taxi driver, you will often ask people about their destination, which is the location where they are going. You will need to understand addresses and directions.
- It is simple and clear. Many tourists speak English, but not all tourists speak English well. Your English should be simple and clear enough for anyone to understand it, even those who do not know too much English.
How you learn tourism English is also a little different from how you would learn regular English.
Choosing the Right Book for You
There are two kinds of books that you can use to learn tourism English: Textbooks and tourism guides.
Textbooks are usually meant to be used in a classroom, with a teacher to guide you through the information. Some textbooks come with workbooks too, which have summaries of the textbook material and exercises where you can practice what you learned.
Tourism guides are written for tourists. They describe the best places to visit, the best hotels to stay in and other useful information for someone traveling in a new place. Many tourism guides also include historical information and give tips on the best times to visit popular places…they are like having a native friend giving you inside information, or information from someone who lives in the place you are visiting.
Which type of book you choose depends on your study style. If you like things to be explained clearly and in an organized way, you will probably like textbook learning. If you prefer to learn by seeing the language being used in a natural context, and if you do not mind learning without any guidance, then you might prefer using a travel guide.
You can learn a lot from both kinds of books, but you need to study them differently.
Here are some tips for learning as much as you can from textbooks and tourism books.
Tips for Learning Tourism English from Textbooks
- If you can, take a tourism and hospitality English class. Textbooks work better when you have a teacher to help you understand the information.
- Skim before you read. Basically, skimming means looking over the text without reading every word. Every time you start a new chapter, skim the chapter’s pages first. Look at the titles of the chapters and any words in bold or italics. Read the introduction and summary if there is one. This will help you prepare for the new information, and this will give you a good idea of what the chapter will teach you.
- Do a little bit at a time. The writing in textbooks can sometimes be difficult to understand, or there can be a lot of information on every page. Do not try to hurry through the entire book. Instead, learn one thing at a time. Only continue to the next chapter of a textbook when you completely understand the material in the previous chapter. It might take you a little longer, but it will help you learn better.
- Schedule study time… and break time. Make sure you have time to study, in a quiet, comfortable area without any distractions. Do not forget to take breaks. Refresh your mind by relaxing for ten minutes once in a while, and refresh your body by using these breaks to get up and move around.
- Read each chapter twice. The first time you read a chapter, do not take any notes. Just read it and try to understand. You can make a mark with a pen wherever you do not entirely understand something. On the second reading, read more carefully, take notes and spend some time understanding the confusing parts.
Tips for Learning Tourism English from Travel Books
- Do not read tourism guides like a book. Even tourists do not read the entire guide from the beginning until the end! There is too much information about too many things in these books. Instead, read a few sections from each part of the book.
- Focus on vocabulary and phrases. Some words are used over and over in travel guides. Words like attractions (interesting places to visit), itinerary (a list of all the scheduled events on your trip) and accommodations (places to stay, like a hotel) are all used often in the tourism industry. If you see a word or phrase repeated more than once in the book, write it down and look it up.
- Use a travel guide for the country or city where you would like to work. By doing this, you can learn about the different historical facts of the area, places to visit and tips for where to eat and what to do. Knowing about an area will help you in a tourism job!
- Take notes in sections. Tour guides are usually organized by location, with information on places to stay, eat, explore and more. When you are taking notes, organize them by topic instead of location. For example, put all transportation-related notes together, historical terms and facts in another section, and restaurant vocabulary in a different section.
Thanks to all these tips, you will now be ready to get started learning tourism English!
Learn English for Tourism with Books: 9 Books to Get You Started
Textbooks and Workbooks
Published by the high quality publisher Oxford Press, this workbook is great for any students who are interested in a tourism job.
The first workbook teaches you how to talk about and sell tourism products like airplane tickets and holiday trips.
There are other books in the series, so you can choose the one that fits what you are looking to learn.
This is another Oxford Press book, which focuses on learning tourism vocabulary.
Every section has a summary with all the vocabulary, and ideas for how to use what you learned in the real world. That makes this a great book to use if you are already working in the tourism industry.
This textbook is from another well-known publisher, Pearson. It uses many photos and has some audio sections so you can hear the material spoken out loud.
The book is organized well, but it is very dense (has a lot of information in one place) so it is better to read this one with a teacher or at least a friend or another student, so you can practice with the group activities.
The “Flash on” series is broken up into units that are short and easy to understand. “Flash on English for Tourism” is a workbook, so it is much more interactive than a textbook, with many ways to test your knowledge of vocabulary and skills.
Rick Steve’s guide books are written in a friendly and easy to understand way. There are guides for many European countries, but even if you cannot find the country you are interested in, you can learn a lot from Steve’s books.
The books use many tourism vocabulary words (like sights and accommodations) and some interesting historical facts about the sights (if you are interested in that!)
The “Let’s Go” series of travel guides is written for students, and include more “hip” attractions like bars and where to find other younger people. If you will be working in a place where you expect to see younger people a lot, this book is a great way to learn some college-age tourism vocabulary.
The “Lonely Planet” guide books are not easy to read even for a native speaker, so do not try to understand everything. Instead, use these books to look for vocabulary and phrases, like world-famous (known all around the world) and overnight stay (when you only stay at a hotel for a night).
For a book that is educational and interesting to read, try “Brandt’s Eccentric” series. These books talk about things to see that are eccentric—unusual and a little weird. They are more interesting than normal tour guides, but still use all the vocabulary and phrases you would need for a job in the industry.
Bill Bryson’s books are not travel guides—but they are travel books.
These books are an excellent way to see different places through someone else’s experiences. Bryson writes about his adventures in places like England and America. His books are a great read and fantastic way to improve your English—and with the travel theme, there are plenty of phrases and words to learn as a tourism English learner too.
Thanks to these tourism textbooks and guides your English will be ready for a job in tourism.
Just do not be surprised when reading them makes you want to travel too!
Oh, and One More Thing…
If you like learning real-world English for tourism, you should also check out the FluentU app. Like the website, the FluentU app lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word “brought,” you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.