I do plan on learning some of the basic languages to start with, though remembering them all i have come to realize is a little more then what i can fully see myself doing. Partly cause i have a bad memory, maybe in time it will get better due to practice, though is it some what considered a barrier and will it cause me more hassle if i was to write out a list of the basic languages that i can connect up with picture or finger expressions to get through? I'm an Australian and wish to make myself comfortable and the people around me comfortable as well and not to get stuck or in a more uncomfortable situation then ever.
Well, at the very best you will be able to memorise the basics of one or two languages to a point where you are able to have some rudimentary knowledge that you can expand upon.
The languages that are the most important in the EU are English, French, Spanish and German. Those are the languages with the most speakers, native as well as non-natives learning them. (For example, many older Italians are quite good at speaking French.)
Russian is also useful to know. While native speakers are rare in the EU a good knowledge of Russian helps you when you travel in Eastern Europe. Often you can guess the meaning of words in slavic languages when you have a good knowledge of Russian. The older people usually had Russian in school, thus you usually will be understood if you express simple concepts in Russian. (My name is, I am from, I would like to have etc.) The Kyrillic alphabet is good to know too.
I would thus suggest you pick one of those languages above.
Alternatively, if you already interested in one country in particular and have applied for a Working Holiday Visa for that country it will make the most sense to learn that language.
Well it looks as though i got my work cut out for me at this stage, but practice only makes perfection...
Thanks very much for the reply
As you probably know, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian are all kind of similar as they are all derived from Latin (as is Romanian I believe) and I was able to work out some basic words and phrases in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese from knowing their French counterpart (I learned French at school but forgot most of it).
Many people say Spanish is the easiest language to learn for a native English speaker, you could try that. I'm learning it, it's a blast.
Polish, Czech, Slovak & Croatian are all very similar too. Learn one of those(Polish would be the best option I guess) and you shouldn't have any problems making yourself understood on a basic level in those countries. Even in Russia, you can use Polish to some degree! They'll look at you a little funny at first but they soon get over it.
I would strongly recommend that you don't try to speak Russian in these countries, as someone suggested above, because it's similar to speaking English in France. Many people will take it offensively & pretend not to understand.
[ Edit: Edited on 01-Mar-2010, at 05:13 by Troyon81 ]