Can-Do Statements for the Outstanding Tourist

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Axon
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Can-Do Statements for the Outstanding Tourist

Postby Axon » Tue Oct 19, 2021 5:49 am

Years ago sfuqua introduced me to the concept of the Outstanding Tourist, which has always stuck in my mind as the ideal level to take pretty much every language I'm interested in.

But what does it really mean? Based on my own travel and language experience, here are my thoughts on what an outstanding tourist may and may not be able to do.

- Can fluently read a menu, place an order, and answer questions about the order at any local or international restaurant. Can ask for clarification on menu items and alter an order if the restaurant is out of something. Cannot easily name kitchen utensils or specialty ingredients and may get lost in a conversation about the origins or variants of a dish.

- Can read a bus or train timetable, find a particular station on a map, ask about arrival and departure times, direct a taxi driver to a destination, and rent a vehicle. Can double-check with other passengers about the schedule and destination. Cannot name specific parts of a vehicle or describe any specialized maintenance.

- Can make a hotel booking over the phone, ask questions about the type of room, extend or cancel bookings, and adapt to unexpected changes by the hotel. Can chat with hotel staff, describe your plans for the trip, and ask for recommendations in the city. Will probably not understand every detail in a recommendation made by an enthusiastic tour guide.

- Can visit a convenience or grocery store to buy daily goods such as soap, snacks, toothpaste, clothing, etc. Can recognize products and specials on advertisements. Can ask for recommendations from staff or get clarification on something they don't understand about a product. Cannot have detailed conversations about electronics, tools, sporting equipment, and other specialty products.

- Can easily chat about the things they've seen on travels as well as introduce themselves and who they're traveling with. Can talk about having learned the language and how they have done so. Cannot freely jump between conversation topics without some searching for words. Likely to "get lost" in a conversation if it goes on very long.

What are your thoughts? What, to you, is the optimal tourist level, and how (if at all) is that different from basic fluency?
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Re: Can-Do Statements for the Outstanding Tourist

Postby Iversen » Tue Oct 19, 2021 4:14 pm

I would probably ask for a little bit more from an outstanding tourist, but there is also a question of nationalities and languages - and cultural awareness.

When I have visited Catalunya the local people have often been flabbergasted that I could speak to them in their own language, whereas people in South America took it as a matter of course that I EITHER could speak fluently with them OR couldn't say anything in Spanish except hola, caramba and dos cervezas more please. In Spain, well, there they have a group of tourists who know a little bit more, but who still can't have a full conversation in Spanish. So to be an outstanding tourist you have to be a notch beyond the tourists who at least have bothered to learn the basics of the local language - and it depends on the local language in question how many of them there are. It takes less to be outstanding if you are the only tourist in the country who has even tried to learn the local language.

But .... if you do prefer in defining the outstanding tourist by capabilites alone (which in my mind defines the 'competent' tourist rather than an outstanding one) then I would at least add the ability to read a local newspaper. Of course there will be institutions and persons mentioned whom you can't be expected to know, but you should have enough cultural background to know at least the main political groupings and something about the local history and geography - without that you lack something that would make you really outstanding.

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Le Baron
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Re: Can-Do Statements for the Outstanding Tourist

Postby Le Baron » Tue Oct 19, 2021 5:42 pm

Axon wrote:Cannot freely jump between conversation topics without some searching for words. Likely to "get lost" in a conversation if it goes on very long.

What are your thoughts? What, to you, is the optimal tourist level, and how (if at all) is that different from basic fluency?

Would you agree that the part I underlined above perhaps applies to all the scenarios outlined? It's one thing to make an order at a restaurant and even navigate menu changes, but what about when the waiter, out of the blue, tells you they actually have a cloakroom for coats (happened to me once), or that there's a better table near the window, or about an accident that happened outside the window half an hour ago etc?

In general the 'outstanding tourist' would then be someone who just speaks outside of given parameters. Or perhaps there will be a rising scale of difference between those adept at getting around to those just having a good general grasp of the language. Up to the latter point you can just say: 'I speak the language'.

After all who can have an off-the-cuff discussion with specialist terminology anyway? I can't do that with some subjects in my own language. And there are some things I don't know in Dutch after almost 20 years of daily use. I think any good tourist makes an effort with what he has; an outstanding tourist is someone who speaks the language.
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Re: Can-Do Statements for the Outstanding Tourist

Postby Monty » Sat Oct 23, 2021 12:18 pm

Axon wrote:Years ago sfuqua introduced me to the concept of the Outstanding Tourist, which has always stuck in my mind as the ideal level to take pretty much every language I'm interested in.

But what does it really mean? Based on my own travel and language experience, here are my thoughts on what an outstanding tourist may and may not be able to do.


That's a C1/C2 level list, not tourist level by any means.
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