How to quickly learn a foreign language
Language barriers are frequent while travelling. Imagine walking into a French restaurant and not knowing how to order dishes off the menu. Even worse, you cannot read the names of dishes and are left blindly pointing at the pictures. This is more common than you think. Often people spend months planning out their dream trip, stocking up on protective and weather-resistant garments, researching local eateries, tourist attractions and looking for guided tours. But they forget to do the single most important thing: learn the local language. How do you expect to navigate completely alien surroundings if you can’t even read the signposts?
Fortunately, learning a language is not as daunting a feat as it seems. Travel fluency is when you learn a language specifically with the intent of communicating with locals on a trip. You don’t become proficient at it, but you know enough of it to be able to hold essential conversations like booking a taxi, asking someone for directions and greeting people you meet. Here are some tips if the date to your flight is fast approaching and you want to learn a foreign language quickly.
You don’t need physical flashcards for learning a language. They are easy to lose, take up space and correctly researched ones may be difficult to find. Thanks to technology, there are plenty of applications on the internet (many of them free) that offer flashcards for learning a language. They cover all the basics like numbers, local greetings and phrases for everyday use. Some common things you need to remember to include how to call a taxi, how to ask for travel directions, how to buy a ticket at the subway, how to order food at a cafe, how to ask for the price of something in a shop and how to check into a hotel. Often these applications offer spaced repetition, which means the word or phrase is repeated often enough to stay fresh in your memory. Hence, you are less likely to forget it as you expand your vocabulary.
In case you fall ill during the trip, you may not be able to see a doctor in time and communicate your predicament correctly unless you know some basic phrases. Either way, you can order anti-malarial medicine and antibiotics for travelers’ diarrhea online off Click Pharmacy.
Now, it is not just important to read a language. You won’t know how to speak unless you know how to pronounce a specific word. Otherwise, your ‘bonjour’ may not make any sense to local speakers. In the words of Phoebe from Friends, ‘you Americans just butcher the French language.’ Here is where YouTube will help you. You can listen to native speakers and see how they pronounce certain words. Apps like Forvo are also beneficial in learning pronunciation.
Moreover, YouTube videos will also teach you regional and dialectical differences within a language. It’ll also be helpful if someone communicates something to you or tries to answer your queries. Remember, a conversation is always two-way. It’s not just important to know what you need to say, but also to understand what is being said back to you. Interviews, music and podcasts are also great ways to pick up a foreign language.
Listening in a context
Remember you have a lot of streaming services at your disposal. Watch movies and TV series in your target language or those that have been dubbed in it. Observe mouth movements and other non-verbal gestures. Listening to your target language being spoken in a conversational context is one of the most effective methods of learning it. Services like Netflix make this very easy as seasons and documentaries can be watched in other languages apart from English.
If you’re struggling with learning a language, there are many introductory-level language courses on websites like Edx and Coursera. BBC also offers language training courses. Most of these are self-paced, and you can learn to speak your target language from a professional on a flexible schedule. These courses cover all the basics from conversational phrases to sentence structure, which is excellent for beginners. Usually, the course material is not more than a dozen hours long, and you’ll be able to cover it in a couple of weeks even with other commitments. This way, you’ll be stocked up with necessary greetings and phrases once it is time to jet off for another country,
Once you’ve mastered basic phrases and words, move on the next step. Find someone you can practice the language with. You won’t gain fluency unless you speak the language with another person and learn how to improvise in different situations. If there’s someone in your family or friends who are fluent in the language or has some basic understanding of it, they would be a great choice to practise with. Otherwise, you can meet hundreds of people online who are learning the same language for one reason or another and practice it with them. Or they might be a native speaker looking to learn English. You can swap sentences in your native languages and help each other out. That’s a win-win situation.
Clubs, community centres and colleges usually offer inexpensive courses for foreign languages. Not all of these aim at maximum proficiency. Some are directed for those looking to learn a language conversationally and gain travel-level fluency. It won’t be challenging to find a speaking partner if you sign up for classes at your local college. Moreover, this gives you access to a trained and fluent instructor to direct any confusions and questions. Ideally, such a support network will be more than sufficient for you to learn how to speak a language during your travels.
Remember that travelling is all about having fun. No one would care if you cannot pronounce a word the same way that native speakers do. Learning a language should be a joyful experience, and it is for your convenience in a new country and nothing else.