Start in their language:
If you are abroad and need to ask or tell anyone something but don't speak their language, at least start the basic greeting in the local language. Hello, Excuse, can I ask you a question, do you speak Y are all basic and easy things to learn that shows your respect and will to learn.
This is true. I have fond memories of a front desk woman at a hotel I stayed at in Spain. I was speaking my admittedly limited (high school and travel) Spanish to her while she spoke English back to me. Neither one condescending, but so funny. There was also a tour guide who was studying English and wanted to know the usage differences between similarly defined words, like journey and trip.
my suggestion:A smile and politeness are universal.
You'd be amazed how far you can get just by doing that.