How to deal with a non-english speaking guest

So I have our first non-english speaking guest (I think) staying with us at the end of the month.
They are from South Korea and after booking, have not responded to my welcome message/question about parking and check-in time etc.

Is it rude to ask someone if they speak English? How do I deal with them when they come to check-in? I’ve never really had to communicate with a non-english speaker so I’m a little unsure how they will be able to follow my house rules etc?

Any advice?

These people are probably kind respectful people, but language issues and cultural differences might cause that not everything goes as expected. Keep an open mind, be flexible and try not to get to negative too soon.

They might be traveling and without wifi. And not responding doesn’t mean that they don’t speak English. Send them a message via the other email.

I just had a family from china over Xmas. Their college son spoke English. The non-English speaking parents were friendlier and we got along better via google translate.

They even help me out cooking my Xmas non-traditional Xmas dinner. Remember they will also be nervous and have concerns staying with you. Try to get some information translated beforehand, via google translate, do some research about traditions, etc. They’re travelers and using Airbnb, so already adventorous.

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Google translate usually works You’ll get the basics across. You can also plug in the text of their response and get the gist of their message. Hello and welcome is 안녕하세요, 환영합니다.

Do you KNOW they don’t speak English? Did the Request come in typed in Korean and translated by Air or Google? Or are you assuming they don’t speak English because they are from Korea?

There are many reasons why someone may not respond in what you think of a timely manner, including things like having to travel significant distances to access a computer with Internet access.

I wouldn’t respond either unless I had exact arrival times, etc. And I was born and raised in Ohio. Too many things can go wrong more than a day out from an arrival in a strange land! They may be going elsewhere first and coming to you after being here for days. Maybe they won’t have a car; or if they do, they may not have a clue about parking in whatever part of whichever city where your listing is located.

See my post. I’m unsure if they speak English. It came in typed Korean and had a button to translate to English.

I think not replying within 7 days of receiving a message is a bit excessive, however that is really not the purpose of my post (and not sure what you being born in Ohio has to do with anything?).

I’m after experiences and tips on how to interact with non-english speaking guests.

I’m sure they also get a little button to translate your message. So they may have just not bothered to read it, like many guests unfortunately!

As for when they arrive at your place, somebody a few days ago recommended an app they found really useful for communicating with non English speakers. I think it was @jaquo, maybe she can tell you the name of it

You’ll probably find they know enough English to be able to communicate at least a little bit though, especially if they’re young.

I’ve used Google Translate with non English speaking guests and by non English speaking I mean they don’t understand one word of English. Although Google Translate is flawed it works well enough. I have very few house rules. If you have a lot of house rules or they are complex it could be difficult. Hopefully it will ease your mind to hear that all of our Korean guests have been wonderful, respectful and courteous.

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Just speak louder.

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Hosting people who do not speak your language is, of course, more difficult. Showing off features of the home has to be done with some pantomime and demonstrations. I have translated a few of our handouts into other languages. I have no idea if they are good translations, but they are a start. Things that I can’t demonstrate is the whole front door thing. When it will be unlocked, who locks it at night, etc. I also translate the page with services and restaurants in the neighborhood with a map.

I have just finished hosting a Korean family, and they are in my top ten guests of all time. They were kind, considerate, very concerned not to intrude, and very concerned about how I felt about the smell of noodles soups and kimchi. [I could care less about the smell of noodle soups and kimchi.]

Be prepared to have on your phone [my Korean guests understood that app pretty well] and to be more patient.


In my experience hosting guests with very limited English has been awful. That’s largely because my listing has somewhat complex arrangements and it’s just impossible to explain in any meaningful way to guests that have no idea what I’m saying. Google translate has been unsuccessful in these situations and to be honest it’s made me wary of hosting guests with very limited English in future.

I have a lot of Korean guests and generally they know enough to get by with google translate as a prop when necessary. Beware about the bathroom though; for me it’s consistently turned into a wet room. In a damp climate having water everywhere is a nightmare and yesterday I found my first ever silverfish.

I had my first foreign language guest inquiry last night around 11:30 pm. I was sound asleep when the ding came. I have instant book with only government ID required so bookings are much more likely than inquiries. I got up to come to my computer to use the translate button. His question, translated was “Available?” with the dates of Feb 8 and 9th. Because it was late the room for last night was blocked off as not available. I have guest can book until 11 pm as my option. So I wasn’t sure if he was asking for last night or for tonight. I would have liked to have the 2 night booking but I just didn’t know what he really wanted. Anyway I pre-approved, marked last night as available and sent him a message seeking clarification. After 10 minutes I changed it all back, removing pre-approval, telling him I was going back to bed and saying thanks for checking with me. None of that would be a big deal if it hadn’t taken me about an hour to get back to sleep.