A social dilemma you’re bound to fall into at some point is whether or not to tip – and how much! Tip too little and you risk the waiter chasing you down the street shouting abuse; tip too much and you might gravely offend the staff. Tipping customs vary all over the world, between different countries and regions (not to mention situations), so do your research before you travel!
How much should you tip?
In the USA, tipping is mandatory and fairly high, with 15-20% being expected. Service wages are fairly low, meaning people factor tips into their pay, and waiters will ask you where their tip is if you haven’t left one.
In the UK, tipping is more relaxed and is never really expected in a pub or cafe, or anywhere with self-service. In restaurants, 10% is usually expected, but if you feel the service was poor then you can express this by not leaving a tip.
Move into Romania, however, where 10% is also recommended (more if you’re really happy with the service), and not leaving a tip would be considered very rude: do not try to return to a restaurant where you didn’t leave a tip.
In lots of countries in Europe, the traditional attitude towards tipping can be seen in the language: German ‘Trinkgeld’, Swedish ‘dricks’ and Danish ‘drikkepenge’ all mean ‘money for drinking’, as does the Slovak ‘prepitné’, French ‘pourboire’, Slovenian ‘napitnina’, Serbian ‘напојница’ and Croatian ‘napojnica’. The idea behind this is that you just round the bill up or leave a few coins, as a contribution towards a drink for the waiter.
Further East, the direct translation is even more specific: in Russia, you leave money ‘for tea’ (‘чаевые’). The same is true of Kazakh‘s ‘шайлық’ (шай- shai- tea’), Uzbek‘s ‘чойчақа’ and Tajiki‘s ‘чойпулӣ’).
Beware, however, that tipping practices have changed significantly and just a few coins often won’t cut it any more in these countries: be prepared for at least a 10% tip, as a broad guideline.
When not to tip
So far, the problem has only been how much to tip, and if you’ve accidentally tipped too much in America or Europe, it won’t cause any massive problems. But in some areas the attitude towards tipping changes drastically.
In Malaysia, Singapore and Japan tipping is not practised at all and could be considered odd or even offensive.
In Georgia, it can be seen as an affront to the notion of hospitality. Beware as well that a tip can easily be misconstrued as a bribe, which you definitely don’t want to get in trouble for, so make sure you look up before travelling whether tipping is normal practice in the country you’re visiting!
Have you ever been caught out by tipping etiquette?
It’s been another busy year at EuroTalk, with new products, new languages… and a new puppy. Throw in a royal encounter and a cake that looks like a Dalek, and you’ve got the makings of an interesting twelve months.
In June, we launched our new app for iPhone and iPod touch, uTalk. This had been in development for a long time, and we were really proud and excited to be able to share it with the world. It’s got more content and more activities, and it’s free to download and start learning the essential words you need to get by in 60 languages. We’ve been adding more languages regularly since the app was launched, and will continue to do so over the coming months. So if we haven’t yet got the language you need, don’t worry – we soon will.
And that’s not all. Last month, we added Lao, the official language of Laos and also spoken in the north east of Thailand, to our range with the release of Talk Now, our beginner program for PC and Mac. Lao has about 15 million speakers worldwide, and is a language we’ve been wanting to offer for some time now. There are more new languages on the way in 2014, so watch this space…
This year also saw the launch of part 2 of our second maths app, Maths, age 4-6, and two new practice apps – Count to 10 and Count to 20. We also released a version of Maths age 3-5, for schools, so teachers can use the app in the classroom.
We’ve been working in Malawi now for several years, as part of our mission to ensure one billion primary age children reach their full potential in numeracy, reading and English. This year, Dr Nicola Pitchford from the University of Nottingham conducted an evaluation at Biwi Primary School in Malawi, to measure how effective our maths apps are for the children’s learning, compared to other teaching methods, including other apps. The preliminary results show that not only did the group using our apps perform significantly better than the other groups, but in fact they tripled their maths knowledge in just eight weeks. This is really exciting and encouraging, and we hope now to scale up the project in Malawi to reach more children, in more schools.
Junior Language Challenge
2013 saw the return of the JLC, after a year off in 2012. Our annual language learning competition for primary age children across the UK is always very popular, and this year was no exception. We were joined at the final by Martha Payne of NeverSeconds, who at just 10 years old, has raised over £140,000 for Mary’s Meals, a charity providing school dinners to children in Malawi. Martha, with her dad and her sister, was our special guest and handed out the prizes to our finalists, including the JLC Champion for 2013, Ella Whittingham from West Bridgford, Nottingham.
A Royal Visit
In October, Steve was honoured by a visit from Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, while at an exhibition in Bangkok. The Princess came to have a look at the EuroTalk stand, and later Steve presented her with a gift on behalf of the company. He had to be instructed on the correct way to bow, and fortunately he got it right!
This year, we’ve said a sad goodbye to Glyn, Tom and Hanna, but welcomed Safia, Seb and Pablo. We’ve also been lucky to have Lorena with us from Germany for a few months; you may have enjoyed some of her blog posts! And in August we welcomed Molly the puppy, who caused a certain amount of mayhem, but was very easily forgiven because she’s so cute.
Fancy dress fun
We entered into the ‘spirit’ of Halloween by getting dressed up for the occasion. With everything from vampires to skeletons, pumpkins to werewolves, we were quite a sight to behold. Although some of us were scarier than others…
Lots of cake
We’ve always enjoyed a bit of cake here at EuroTalk, but this year we’ve been thoroughly spoilt, with keen bakers Safia and Alex (but mostly Safia) providing us with masterpieces like this amazing Dalek cake. (It took us three days to eat, but it was totally worth it.)
And so the year has come to an end in style. Thanks as always for reading our blog, and to our guest bloggers who’ve been in touch over the last year. Please do contact us if you have something you’d like to share!
Happy New Year, everyone – see you in 2014!
The blog article about ‘Learning a language – our top 10 tips’ is so true! Now I have been in London for more than three months and you have to take all the tips to your heart. For example, ‘Don’t be scared to talk to people’ and ‘Find someone to talk to’ are very important points. And I found a good solution. Near to my house is a pub. And over time the publican and me, we have become good friends. He is a very friendly man and his daughter helps in the pub too. A happy family business! Every time I pass the pub, he waves at me. This makes me happy and I feel like I’ve arrived in this new city.
I remember, the first time I was in the pub, because the internet in my homestay didn’t work. I thought, the pub will definitely have wi-fi! And I was right. I ordered a Coke and sat there with my laptop. The publican was curious about what I am doing in London and why I am here. I can imagine, suddenly there is a person from another country, speaking another language. Thus the first step was done. Whenever I didn’t know what to do with my evening, I would go to the pub. One day I was even allowed to use his kitchen for muffins! My host mother had a birthday and I thought it could be nice to make some for her. In the end I did 24 because the publican said, why didn’t I use all my ingredients.
So don’t be scared to go in a pub and if someone wants to speak with you, don’t panic. They are interested and they can help you to improve your English. Ask if you don’t understand something, and they will explain it to you. Believe me, it makes you happy, if you understand the meaning! So what do we learn from this? Always go in pubs!
And as point 10 said: ‘Enjoy it’! This the main thing. You want to learn a new language for you and you don’t have to prove anything to anybody. It is for you alone. If you are happy with the things that you are doing, you learn faster and more. I talk a lot with my host mother and love it. Every evening we have dinner together, we talk about her and my day. To live in a host family is also a good solution because when you arrive, you aren’t alone. Or like me, start an internship in this country! You have people around you and everything you are doing has to do with the language you want to learn. You take part in a working life. And before I take the train to come home, I take the London Evening Standard and read it in the train. Any social things you find, use them! Or what about a book? Start with one you know you will understand and later you can buy a book with a higher reading level.
* Or a cafe. Or a restaurant. They work too.