Traveling to foreign lands can be a lot of fun, but it can also be educational if you attempt to learn the lingo along the way. While in many countries, especially the more popular ones for tourists, the locals speak a certain amount of English, imagine how satisfying it can be to be able to converse with them in their own mother tongue as you travel along? Here are a few tips to help you as you go.
Obviously the best option is to actually attend a foreign language course at your local language school, or take part in an online course, of which there are many on offer on the Internet these days. However, maybe you don’t have the time on hand right now.
If the latter is the case, probably the easiest is to attend a crash course for the language you wish to acquire before you travel. Many language colleges offer these and they basically give you the most important words and phrases necessary for getting through the airport, flagging down a taxi and ordering food and drink in the local lingo – in other words, getting by as you go. Normally running for around two weeks, this is a fun, if a tad exhausting, way to get some of the most important language parts under your belt.
Total immersion courses are also useful, as in some cases the programs offer you a solid nine hours per day of literally non-stop training, which is considered to be the closest alternative to actually living in the country involved. Total immersion can mean total exhaustion, however, and you would then really need that vacation break!
Of course, the very best total immersion course is experienced in the country you travel to, enabling you to learn the lingo along the way. Yes you will make mistakes, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Patient locals will normally help by correcting your errors.
Always carry a dictionary which gives you the direct translation between English and the foreign language you are encountering. While this can be a bit cumbersome, turning pages, searching for the right word in the middle of a conversation, it can also be an invaluable tool to look up the meaning of words at leisure.
The next ideal situation is the good, old-fashioned method – go out and buy a phrase book for the particular language involved. This small and handy tome will normally fit into your pocket or tote bag and can be dragged out whenever you get stuck with communicating abroad. Of course, it would be easiest if you already had some of the more commonly-used phrases in your noggin before you even leave home. For instance, it would be great to know how to say “what is this” or ”how do you say this” in xxx (with xxx being the actual language involved). Try to remember the response or write down a phonetic version for future use.
Obviously with the latest high-tech world, there are more modern methods to access phrasebooks online using your mobile technology. Google play offers a range of different apps for phrasebooks in all the most commonly used languages, making your life incredibly easy. If there is a cell phone signal available, you’re up and away, phrasing like crazy with the natives.
Just for fun, included below is a rather amusing crash course in video form on the psychology of language, which may, or may not, help with your skills.
Hopefully the above will help in your quest to learn a foreign language while on vacation, so go travel, learn the lingo and also have a lot of fun along the way.
By Anne Sewell