Bags are packed, you’ve got your passport and travels jabs are up to date. Working or travelling in another county is a fabulous way to gain more experience in your chosen profession, as well as a chance to see the world.

 Unfortunately, however much prep you do beforehand to ensure things go smoothly, disaster can strike when you least expect it. This list of six super phrases will help you out in any emergency situation you may encounter. Keep them to hand to spare you angst abroad.
The current job market is tough; appeal to would-be employers by getting additional experience from a stint in another country. If you’ve got the skills then has a scheme to put them to the test.

 Overseas voluntary work is a major part of projects; give developing countries a helping hand as a professional volunteer. Before you go, though, it’s important to be prepared. It’s likely you’ll be travelling to a country that speaks a foreign language. To avoid a sticky situation, memorise these six phrases and spare yourself further anguish in an emergency.

 “Do you speak English?”

 This is a must-know phrase, whatever sector you’re working or volunteering in. Don’t waste time struggling to make yourself understood in an emergency situation. Even if you know the language well, if you’re flustered you’re likely to forget everything. Save time by asking if they understand English.

 Argentina (Spanish): Hablas Inglés?

Thailand (Thai): Nun pôot paa-săa ang-grìt rĕu bplào?

Romania (Romanian): Vorbiţi engleză?

 “Where does it hurt?”

 If you’re working as a doctor or nurse in Togo, it’s vital you treat the patient as quickly as possible in an emergency. You won’t have time to flick through a phrase book – have this sentence to hand so you can immediately access the situation and decide the best course of treatment.

 Togo (French): Où avez-vous mal?
“Is it poisonous?”

 As a vet working in the Amazon rainforest, you’re likely in encounter animals you’ve never treated before. Don’t put yourself at unnecessary risk; find out if the animal is dangerous before rushing in to help. You won’t be popular with fellow volunteers if they have to carry you back to base camp.

Peru (Spanish): Dónde le duele?

“Call an ambulance”

 An injured child is a teacher’s worst nightmare but it’s important to keep a level head. When the situation escalates beyond your ability while volunteering in South Africa, call in the professionals to help.

 South Africa (Afrikaans): Bel 'n ambulans

“Is it safe?”

 Engineering projects abroad can involve building houses for the homeless, providing a fresh water supply or repairing damage after a natural disaster. Construction sites are dangerous places at the best of times – don’t be the numpty who makes things worse in Bolivia.

 Bolivia (Spanish): Es seguro?

“It’ll be ok”

 Many projects require the skills of midwives. In addition to attending to the medical needs of a woman, it’s important to provide reassurance. While attending a labour in Senegal, use this phrase to provide comfort to a new mum.

 Senegal (French): Il va bien se passer


Resource box

Foreign Office

Find out important travel information before you go.

BBC Languages

Take an online language course to help you learn the local lingo.


Important information about travel jabs.

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