5 Tips to Learn a Language Easily While Traveling
Languages enable us to communicate with strangers and learn about other cultures. Learning a foreign language surprisingly also allows you to reflect on your own culture and as a result you may find you gain a better understanding of yourself.
Experts agree that the best time to study a second language is when you’re ready to really immerse yourself in it such as when traveling, whether it be for a simple short holiday or long-term residency abroad as an expat. That being said, learning a language can seem daunting at first and actually feeling confident enough to use a new language while traveling when not yet fluent can be intimidating.
If you’re considering learning a new language that will allow you to better immerse yourself in foreign culture and engage with locals while traveling abroad, here are some tips that can make learning a new language easier and more enjoyable.
Five Helpful Hints for Learning a Language While Traveling
Immerse Yourself in a New Language
As we have already stated, one of the best times to study a second language is while traveling. This is when you are more likely to really immerse yourself in a new language because of the many benefits it can bring.
Of course you don’t need to wait until you’re on vacation to start learning. The lead up to a holiday is often one of the most exciting aspects of travel as you build up the anticipation, and learning a new language you can use while traveling abroad can only add to the anticipation.
Traveling often forces you to use a foreign language in order to get by, whether it’s reading airport and traffic signs, ordering meals from restaurants, asking for directions, or shopping. Of course English is often readily spoken in many tourist hotspots, so to really force yourself to learn, use, and immerse yourself in a new language you may have to get off the beaten path a bit.
A sure-fire way to really dive into a new language while traveling is to book a homestay experience with a local family who speaks the language. Another way is to try working abroad if you can get a visa that allows working privileges. By engaging with locals, a language becomes more than just words on paper or a screen. You can learn to pick up dialects, tones, mannerisms, and speed with which locals speak.
Begin Gradually and Make it Fun
While you may wish to be fluent as quickly as possible, set yourself realistic goals and don’t be too hard on yourself. Certain languages are of course more difficult to pick up than others. Don’t try to compare yourself to others when it comes to learning either as everyone has their own pace.
A good place to start is by learning common words and phrases that will be useful to you during your travels. There are certain words and phrases that will give you the best bang for your buck so to speak. Practice a set of words and phrases until they become memorized and then continue to add more and more words and phrases at a pace that is manageable to you.
Don’t feel pressured to try and speak fast or with perfect enunciation at first. Speaking slowly and softly at first allows you to better concentrate on the words or phrases you are trying to get out and others will be able to better understand you. Try not to worry too much about whether it’s obvious you are new to the language as others will respect the fact you are trying and will more than likely be accommodating and willing to help you learn even further.
To make learning more fun, try watching foreign movies and TV series, or listen to podcasts and read books. If you have a Netflix subscription, you’ll find there are many foreign films and series from a range of different languages that will allow you to read subtitles while actually listening to native tongue.
Use a Language Learning App
Thankfully, there are now many language learning apps to choose from which can be easily and quickly downloaded to nearly any device. Many apps are quick and straightforward to use. They can be simply downloaded before your trip so you will have this priceless tool along with you for the ride.
Each language learning app is different and offers unique features. Some focus on words while others tend to be more phrase-focused, and some are more text-based learning while others are more audio-based. You may learn a language though quizzes, speaking exercises, chatbots you can practice with, watching videos of native speakers, or through accessing live classes taught by real people through an app.
A small foreign dictionary or phrase book used to be the go-to, but apps are replacing the need for these. That being said, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to bring one along for those times when you find your phone’s battery is dead or when your app relies on data which you may not wish to use abroad depending on roaming data cost.
Leave Your Comfort Zone and Don’t Fear Making Mistakes
Learning a new language and readily using it while traveling likely means putting yourself in embarrassing situations at times. You will make mistakes, but know this is necessary in order to develop and improve.
Learning a new language will be exponentially more difficult if you don’t put yourself out there and speak with locals. It may seem daunting at first but gets easier the more you do it. Don’t fear being judged, learn to laugh at your mistakes, and avoid being defensive and instead be willing to take any offered constructive criticism.
Realize that you will mistake words and often mispronounce words, but only through this can you learn effectively. Don’t try to learn too quickly and try not to get discouraged if your progress doesn’t live up to your expectations. Lastly, don’t wait to be fluent to begin speaking with locals, as a huge part of becoming fluent in a language is getting out there and speaking as soon as possible and learning along the way.
Learn a Language with Someone
While you can most definitely learn a new language by yourself, that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Learning a new language together with a friend, family member, or colleague who may be traveling with you is a great idea.
Learning a language with another person often gives you more motivation to try harder whether it’s because of a little friendly competition or simply wanting to impress one another. Of course, learning a language together with someone also allows you to support one another and exchange useful tips that may be helping you each learn.
You can divide and conquer when it comes to selecting language learning apps in order to see if one may be proving to be more helpful than another. Learning a language together also allows you to have conversations where you can practice speaking foreign dialogue with one another.
Traveling with zero understanding of the language of a country you are visiting only does you a disservice and prevents you from fully learning and understanding new cultures. Embracing the local language and at least attempting to engage with locals really makes travel much more rewarding.
You’ll be amazed at just how much fun learning the most popular languages can be. You may also find that learning a new language acts as a sort of gateway to being open to try other new experiences while traveling.