How to Learn a New Language When Traveling
Guilaine Jean-Pierre | Mar 11, 2015
Title: Contributor
Topic category: Volunteering & Study
On the Off Trail

Lagos, Nigeria

Here at On the Off Trail, we believe that you should embrace the world around you and one of the first steps is to learn the language of your host country. No matter where you go in the world, you’re bound to come across others who don’t speak English. Pantomime and sign language only go so far before you realize that you need to know what the other person is actually saying. An easy way to learn a new language is to visit the country and immerse yourself in that world. With just a few expressions or sayings under your belt, you’ll be talking and acting like a local in no time.

Step 1

Watch television in your hotel room, preferably with the English subtitles turned on. Repeat the phrases as they're spoken and learn what they mean by reading the subtitles. It's also helpful to watch the news, as the reporters tend to speak more slowly, as well as commercials, since they're easier to follow than television shows and movies.

Step 2

Take a beginner language class in the country. You'll get a chance to learn along with other students. If you're staying for an extended period, take intermediate and advanced speaking classes, as well as classes on reading and writing.

Step 3

Listen to radio broadcasts playing local music rather than popular American music. Even if you can't understand the meanings behind the words, it exposes you to how words and phrases sound. As you learn more words, you'll slowly begin to understand what the singers are saying.

Step 4

Talk to locals using the words you know. Speak clearly, and explain at the beginning of your conversation that you speak only a small amount of the language. This prevents the other person from speaking too fast and helps you better follow what is said.

Step 5

Keep a translation dictionary with you. As soon as you come across a phrase or word you don’t understand, look it up and repeat it to yourself several times.

Well, good luck on your adventure overseas. Please let us know if these tips were helpful.

Jennifer Eblin, Demand Media
Tags: Learning a foreign language, Traveling overseas
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