Trying to get around in a foreign country on vacation when you don’t know the language can be an arduous task. Whether you’re trying to read the menu in a café or ask for directions, you can’t get help if you can’t communicate. It’s a conundrum that a lot of travelers face. As you travel, you are likely to encounter people who speak at least some English. However, learning some of the local languages will help. You’re not aiming for fluency; you’re trying to learn a language enough to get by.
If your last attempt to learn a language was that horrible high school Latin class where you failed because you couldn’t figure out the declensions, this can be daunting. The good news is that you’re not in school anymore. You don’t need to spend hours studying, and it won’t count against your GPA if you don’t get everything perfectly right. Here are some painless ways to pick up another language.
Use Your Airport Time
You’re going to be spending hours traveling to the airport, waiting for your flight and sitting in the plane. Over dinner — assuming you’re on an airline that still feeds its passengers — why not pop in your earbuds and play a language course? While you’re waiting in line for security or customs, flip through a phrasebook you stowed in your carry-on instead of stewing and fretting. Put foreign-language bands on your phone and listen to them while you’re on the airport shuttle.
You’re going to be looking for a lot of ways to waste time, and spending ten minutes reading or listening to vocabulary isn’t going to kill you.
When you are learning a different language, try to understand what the basic words are first before entering the country. You have time to learn the essential words and phrases when you are sitting at the airport waiting for your flight. Learning the basic words at the airport may make you feel less nervous when you are about to arrive and travel around. The first step is to learn basic words and phrases like greeting someone and saying goodbye that are important to help you fit in at your destination.
If you want to go out to eat when you are traveling around, you should learn how to order food and drinks, and how to ask for the bill. If you are walking around the city and want to find something, it’s good to learn how to ask where something is. For example, if you are looking for a bathroom, it may be ideal to know the phrase for that in your desired language. Learn how to call the police or communicate basic needs to a doctor in case of an emergency. Take advantage of your extra free time at the airport to be prepared.
Learn a Language by Watching TV
You don’t even have to really watch; try putting on a show in the language you’d like to learn while you’re washing the dishes, sleeping or working around the house. Between satellite, public access, local channels and the Internet, you’re likely to find TV shows in the language you want to learn. Pay particular attention to kids’ programs like Sesame Street. They’re teaching vocabulary in small, easy to understand segments, and these shows can help you learn a language just as much as it can help a five-year-old.
This tends to have the same effect as listening to music in another language, in that it helps you become more familiar with pronunciation and vocabulary and helps your ears become accustomed to the different sounds.
Do you have a favorite TV show that you watch over and over again? If you watched the dub version of your TV show, you can pick up on familiar words and sayings. Listening to a few episodes every day will make you feel more comfortable with the language and assist with the growth of your vocabulary.
If you are more advanced with learning your language, this next step is for you. Watching reality shows from a country you will be traveling to will be beneficial. Yes, you read that correctly. Watching reality shows can help you learn a language and understand the local culture when you are traveling abroad. When you are watching a reality show, you start to pick up on accents and different slang people use in the country. Most reality shows display how people talk in the country and the current trends in the language.
Watch Dubbed Films
You already know what happens in Star Wars, Toy Story or Hugo; you don’t need to rely on subtitles. Find a foreign-language dubbed version of a movie you like, sit back and watch it. Because you already know the plot, you won’t stress out about what’s happening or what people are saying, and you will find that you pick up a lot.
Similar to TV shows, find a dubbed movie that you know every single English word in. You can follow along without the subtitles easier than if you are reading the words. If you need the subtitles at first, you can figure out what certain words mean. It’s a good tool to translate! Then you can see how sentences are formed and what the grammar form is correct. You might be reciting your favorite movie in another language in no time!
Learn the Expletives
Yes, we’re suggesting that you learn to swear in another language. Here’s why: you probably want to learn those words, so you’ll put some effort into it. And guess what? If you can learn to say “kiss my ass” or “you suck” in Spanish, you can learn the polite words, too. This may be silly, but you can use these expletives words for a lot of different reasons. In case you want to yell at someone if they did something wrong or if you want to be like the locals, learning the expletives can help you. You’ll also understand what’s happening if someone is yelling at you and saying terrible things.
It’s ideal to know and keep this information in the back of your mind. If you know the cuss words, then it makes you look like a local. How can you learn expletives? A quick Google search can help you on the expletives words and how to say it. If you are feeling ambitious, learn expletives with a saying that could possibly offend the locals if you are looking to have something in your back pocket.
Also, learning the swear words and what offends the locals could help you avoid what to say. This can help you understand the culture of the country more and have a deeper meaning to a language when you are traveling.
Find Music You Like
Think about your favorite songs for a moment: you know all the lyrics, right? You didn’t sit down and study them. You probably just picked them up by listening to those songs repeatedly, and it was totally painless. Whatever your preference, be it rap, alternative, punk, dubstep or even show tunes, there’s probably music out there in the language you want to learn. YouTube, Amazon and iTunes have made it easier than ever to find these bands and artists and give them a listen.
Find some songs you like, buy them, listen to them, and help your brain familiarize itself with the language you want to learn. You’ll also learn about some cool new bands you might not have known about before.
If you are able to find a dub version of your favorite artist, song or album, then download it. Listen to it a few times. Get familiar with how people say certain words in the desired language you want to learn. It can be helpful when you want to pronounce letters or phrases that you may find confusing.
Language Applications and Websites
The benefits of purchasing a language application or website are that you can learn anytime and anywhere, even when you are traveling. You never have to waste time trying to figure out what language you want to learn. You can learn on the go through your computer and phone! There are so many language applications and websites out there. Which one can you choose from? We found a few for you to consider. (www.sienagolfclub.com)
This website features over 40 million registered users that will help others learn a new language on the go. The beginners’ lessons focus on using flash cards for new words and phrases. The advanced lessons focus on writing and answering questions that will be reviewed by a native speaker. There are writing exercises, audio recordings, grammar-focused lessons, video units and printable files. This will be available to you via their website and their application.
This website and its app offer 20 different languages. It has cultural notes, games, full course content and flashcards that are available to help you learn a language on the go. The program also offers e-tutoring with native speakers who you can interact with from anywhere in the world. Log in any time to start speaking your desired language now!
One of the best websites to learn a language is Rosetta Stone. They have been around for years, but they have been able to evolve with the times. They have a monthly subscription service that focuses on reading, writing and speaking. Once you have access, you will be able to use it on your laptop, tablet or phone. It offers the best value!
Knowing even a few basic phrases in the local language can really enhance your time spent abroad. There are a lot of ways to pick up those words without stressing yourself, signing up for classes or spending hundreds of dollars. It just requires your effort and time. Get to it.