Brits have long held a reputation for feeling lost when it comes to speaking foreign languages on holiday. But new research from Amazon today reveals that the average Brit is much better than stereotypes suggest, capable of ordering a beer in three different languages while on their travels.

The new survey of Amazon’s 75,000-strong workforce as part of its Chatterbox series also found that 10% of Brits could ask for a beer in over five languages. Brits were able to recite the equivalent phrase for “excuse me”, as well as “I don’t understand?” and “where is the toilet?”, in an average of three languages.

However, the survey did reveal some embarrassing faux-pas that prove how more Brits would benefit from brushing up their foreign language skills. Two in 10 have been sent to the wrong place and a quarter have suffered eating the wrong dish in a restaurant after getting the language mixed up.

A further 13% have been short-changed, and 7% have accidentally given a giant tip because they failed to calculate the exchange rate correctly. The most commonly confused words include ‘fizzy’ and ‘still’, followed by ‘left’ and ‘right’ and ‘please’ and ‘thank you’

The research also reveals the top ‘language cheats’ that people use to get by on a holiday abroad. Half of people admit to only learning the first half of a sentence in a foreign language in the hope they can finish the rest in their own tongue.

56% only learn to ask the phrase “do you speak English?”, while 24% are too embarrassed to try and speak a different language at all.

Travel and language expert Alex Rawlings says that for those looking to give a foreign language a go when on holiday, the best place to start would be to perfect the following five phrases:

  1. Learn a greeting phrase with something like ‘Hello’ or ‘Good Evening’
  2. Learn a phrase that shows appreciation such as ‘thank you very much’
  3. Learn an apology phrase so that you can apologise that you don’t speak the language very well
  4. Learn a question phrase, something with ‘where is’ or ‘what is’ because people will be able to help you more
  5. Learn something nice that you can say to people like “you have a lovely smile”, or just something that’s going to make people warm to you – and say it with a smile as this will help you to connect with people, which is really important.