If you’ve ever traveled to a country where you didn’t speak the language, you’ll no doubt recall at least one awkward and frustrating incident due to the inability to communicate. To avoid these situations, you may have bought a $25 dictionary at the airport and fumbled around the pages while you tried to order a meal or ask for directions. Before your next trip to a foreign country, forget the dictionary and follow these three language learning tips.With a few weeks of preparation, you can learn enough of a new language to make your travels much smoother and more enjoyable.
1. Put Down the Book, Pick Up Your Phone
We learn a language best when we practice by speaking, listening, reading, and writing.While phrase books and dictionaries can teach you some vocabulary, you’ll be missing out on practicing all the other important skills. Luckily, there are a wealth of language learning apps for your smartphone that help you practice in multiple ways. Apps like Duolingo use your computer’s microphone to listen to and correct your pronunciation as you speak. Memrise uses pictures to help you learn and spell new words. The Rosetta Stone Travel App allows you to listen and match spoken sentences to their meanings. By using these apps to practice the language in a variety of ways, you’ll acquire it much more quickly.
2. Talk to Someone!
At the end of the day, we want to learn a new language so we can speak it. Therefore, actual conversation is vital for successful language learning. There are several free language exchange communities that can match you with a native speaker so you can practice using your new language. Conversation Exchange (www.conversationexchange.com) helps you find a native speaker near you for in-person meetups, while iTalki (www.italki.com) allows you to converse with your partner online via video. Many language communities are based on trading lessons, so make sure you’re ready to teach your partner about your own language.
3. Movies and Music
After you’ve spent a few weeks learning your new language, you can increase your fluency and cultural knowledge by listening to music and watching subtitled movies in the language you want to learn. Use Google to find some famous songs from the country you’ll visit, and print out the lyrics. Then, follow along as you listen to the song. You can also find foreign movies with subtitles on Netflix or at your local library.Language research shows that when you have fun while learning, you learn much more efficiently than when you’re bored. Movies and music will increase your vocabulary, listening skills, and pronunciation in a carefree and enjoyable way.
If you follow these three tips a few weeks before your next trip, you’ll find yourself conversing with locals and having a truly authentic travel experience.