Words connect people across the globe by seamlessly spanning distances time. Mastering a single language takes years of practice while learning several can take decades—even if you start young. Many of us who travel seek to uncover the secrets and substance of a new location and desire to blend in rather than stand out. With just 23 primary languages being spoken by half the global population and over 7,000 dialects in total, language barriers can easily interfere with an amazing journey. Here are a few tricks to help you learn new lingo and transform from tourist to traveler.
Make the Effort
Learning a new language is a time-consuming and intense endeavor but will pay off handsomely with even a small amount of effort. If you have an upcoming trip or just the desire to go for it, there are endless resources to get started and pick up a few phrases in nearly any language. You won’t make progress unless you really dive in (even if it’s just the shallow end) and practice, practice, practice. It is the only real way to reach fluency. A few key expressions and words will get you started, and you’ll be surprised at how easily strangers might help if they hear you attempting the local patois versus making demands in your native tongue. Focus on learning vocabulary over grammar; important and frequently used words will get a conversation flowing or a question asked more easily than stumbling over syntax.
Leave Your Comfort Zone
Learning a new language is difficult but communication is inherently human. It’s easy to ask for the English version of a menu or for a local who knows how to speak your language. Resist these urges if you really want to have a unique and authentic experience while you travel. You might get frustrated, lost or end up with something weird on your plate, but allowing the unfamiliar will open far more doors than it will close. Ask a stranger if they’d be willing to talk with you for a few minutes and you’ll be sure to learn more in that time than you would from your phrase book or phone. Ask several strangers and there’s a good chance you’ll end up with a new friend, eager local guide or a home-cooked meal. Spend an entire day or two only speaking the language you are learning and you will make progress in strides. It can be challenging to come to a new place, not knowing a single word or person and hoping to get by, but attempting the arduous and immersing yourself in a new culture is a surefire way to create amazing memories sure to inspire many travels to come.
Utilize the Wide World of Tech
Today’s digital age makes it easier than ever to learn and practice new languages. Many resources are at your fingertips and with a little savvy you can be on your way to that alluring multilingual lifestyle. There are several great apps which offer lessons, practice and are free to get started:
Websites offering courses, videos and other instructional material are also aplenty and a quick web search will get you pointed toward any language . A few favorites include:
Podcasts are also a great source to utilize in your linguistic endeavors. There are many offerings in making them a great option for ease and convenience. This medium is appealing because you get the chance to hear phrases and words spoken out loud and oftentimes instructors break down explanations in an accessible and easy-to-learn manner. The options are vast, varied and simple to find online or through your phone. An easy and effective way to fit an hour or more of language study into a busy day, podcasts offer a highly accessible format to work your way toward proficiency.Written by Caleb Summeril