Learning a new language is a great way to broaden your horizons as a traveler, businessperson, and citizen of the world. Whatever your reasons for traveling, you will find your trip more interesting, more productive, and more fun if you have some grasp of the native language. Of course, becoming multilingual is never easy. Follow these 5 tips for learning a new language before you travel and make the most of every trip abroad.
- Come Out of Your Shell
A common misconception among foreign language students is that they can learn simply by reading and listening. While this will get you somewhere, you’ll never be able to speak a foreign language if you don’t speak. It’s natural to feel self-conscious about attempting to speak a foreign language, but overcome that shyness and break out of your shell. No one expects you to speak perfectly, so don’t be afraid of making mistakes. The only way to get better at speaking a foreign language is to speak as much as you can.
- Carry a Phrase Book and Dictionary
In the days leading up to your travels, as well as during your time traveling, carry a small phrase book and translation dictionary. If you hear a word or phrase you don’t recognize, look it up and use it several times to commit it to memory. Think of new sentences in your foreign language and look up the words you need to express them. Just don’t rely on these books as crutches. Use them to learn new words and check your comprehension, but try to exercise your own memory as much as possible.
- Watch TV
This may sound strange, but watching TV is one of the best ways to improve your skills in a foreign language. Find programs and movies in the language you are attempting to learn, and watch them as much as possible. Use English subtitles to follow along in the beginning, and then see how much you can comprehend with no text on-screen. This is allegedly how movie star Jackie Chan learned how to speak English. Watching TV is a great way to improve your language skills and have fun at the same time, so give it a try.
- Find a Conversation Partner
No one can truly learn a foreign language on their own. Learning a new language is about more than just reading, speaking and listening. In order to be truly proficient in a foreign language, you need to be able to think on your toes and converse freely. You need speaking and listening comprehension skills that go beyond the text book. Find a conversation partner to improve your ability to use your new language spontaneously and you’ll be well on your way to fluency.
- Look for Host Country Classes
When in Rome, do as foreigners in Rome do and take a language class. There are plenty of language programs available for travelers, such as ItalianoInRiviera in Italy. Enrolling in a language class in your host country is a great way to improve your language skills when you travel. Learn from a native speaker and converse with other foreigners from all over the world who are struggling in the same way as you. When you can overcome a language barrier with people who don’t share your native language, then you’re truly making progress and learning a new language.