You’ve booked a Christmas or New Year’s break and want to learn or brush up on the language of the country you’re travelling to. How can this be tackled in a few weeks?
Whether you’re tongue-tied or phrase phobic, here’s a few tips:
The Wonders of the Web
For a wide range of languages, you’re spoilt for choice online with a massive selection of tools, including podcasts, written exercises, video tutorials and dozens of other online recourses. Online material caters for beginners to advanced, such as crash courses, games, vocabulary, grammar explanations and exercises. An encouraging aspect of learning a language online is you can do so at your own pace from almost anywhere; this may include on the train, bus or work lunch hour using a portable device – and there are many free online resources.
Not What you Know – But Who You Know?
Who do you know in your circle of friends or family who speaks the language or at least gets by? Why not invite them round and ask them to give you some intensive lessons over a few hours in the weeks before you go? You could even cook them a meal for their efforts – themed on the chosen country you’re visiting. Popular opinion says a great way to learn is to actually speak in the language, and not in English. If your ‘language leader’ cannot make it over to your home, consider talking via video chat software or over the phone. If you have friends in the destination country, then great. Again, why not chat to them over the phone or online in the run up before you go?
Foreign Phrase Book
You may have all the essentials for your trip away, including passport and travel insurance – but have you packed your foreign phrase book? Buying a language or phrase book can work wonders to help you pick up basic vocabulary, greetings, and asking for items in shops and directions. The handy part of books, especially pocket size, is that you can keep them about your person and refer to them when you like. Even if you’re tongue-tied, you can bring out you book, and ask a local to help by pointing at the words or a picture. Of course, the obvious benefit of a phrase book is that you can leaf through it on the plane or train, in the hotel or even when you’re taking a break from enjoying the sites.
Podcasts and DVDs
For those with a natural ear for foreign languages, an option could be to download and listen to podcasts. Again, like a pocketbook, you can learn or brush up on a language anywhere you are – for example when doing some DIY or when walking the dog. Some language podcasts go beyond grammar and phrasing lessons, featuring songs and tips about the wider culture of a region. Podcasts, which are available on language learning websites like Open Culture, can also include a text file, enabling learners to test their listening and reading skills.
A friend in need…
Why not ask your partner, friends and family if they can be a sounding board for your recent learnings? They can test you on vocabulary, pronunciation and speaking the language. If you are travelling abroad with your partner or family, it may help all of you to practice learning the foreign language together and test each other. Finally, don’t panic. Arguably the bet place to tackle a foreign language is the country itself, where you can live, breathe and soak up the culture yourself. Enjoy!
This guest post was written on behalf of Money Matters, the Sainsbury’s Bank blog. It aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include handy tips and tricks, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Any links to Sainsbury’s Bank product pages contained within this post are there to provide information, not to directly promote financial products. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.