Most people have a basic knowledge of the English language. Don't ask the elderly, it's better to contact younger people for help. Hotel staff normally speaks English very well, restaurant depending on location.
It's like everywhere - people having attended a higher school or university usually have better linguistic skills, labours won't really understand you. Additionally we have many immigrants which don't even speak German properly.
If you wanna know something, ask politely if he/she speaks English!
<<If you wanna know something, ask politely if he/she speaks English!>>
That is such good advise Mikey. In fact, next to "please", "thank you," and "excuse me," I think that is the best phrase to learn to say in the foreign language of the country you choose to visit. It just seems to offer the respect of not assuming someone else can or is willing to speak English.
knb97 -- just being in big cities, there are going to be a surfeit of people who understand and speak some English, particularly in the tourist service industry. Smaller towns and off-the-tourist-track cities are sometimes a different story
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