Learn a Language Before You Go

Travel allows us to tap into unlimited
possibilities and experiences. We can explore new destinations, meet new
people, make new friends, learn about new cultures and try new foods. Travel
also allows us to learn new words and phrases, which is particularly fun when
your native language is not the language spoken at your destination.

Obviously, it’s impossible to learn a
whole, new language before you depart. However, learning some of the basics
will ensure you can enrich your experience in a non-English speaking country
while connecting and garnering respect from the locals. Here are my easy tips
for learning some language prior to your departure.

Go back to school

OK, so this idea might spark a little
fear or reluctance in some. Though, education methods have changed incredibly
over the years and going back to school can actually be a fun and rewarding
experience. If you have a few weeks or months to spare before you go, consider taking
up a short, introductory language course. Tertiary institutions now offer many
short courses at reasonable prices. Not only can you learn words and phrases,
you can learn about alphabet (handy for reading street signs) and correct
grammar. Courses like these are generally taught by native-speaking teachers so
there are many opportunities in class to ask questions, gain feedback on your
progress and gather advice on pronunciation.

Learn a language online

You can find a plethora of language
courses online. It’s a matter of just typing a language into a search engine
and away you go. You’ll find hints, videos, curriculum-based worksheets, interactive
activities and more. If you want a more structured learning experience then Mango
offers many courses for a small fee. If you’re on a budget, then you
can find basic courses for free in 35 languages at Livemocha. More advanced
courses and tutoring is also available to purchase. You can also “language swap”
with native-speaking students through video link-ups or instant messaging. This
is particularly helpful if you’re trying to tailor your learning to a specific

Talk the talk

There’s no question that practice makes
perfect. So, why not find a local language group in your area? Local newspapers
are a good source of announcements from community groups offering conversation
and instruction. Or, you can find a group in your city via Meetup.  If you don’t feel comfortable conversing
with strangers, then a friend or relative (who might be fluent in the language
you want to learn) might be able to help you practice.  

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