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There are two types of people you will meet traveling: Those who care about learning a new language and those who do not. Judging by the reading of this article you are probably of that former type.
You might even end up showing off to those non-skilled leechers that need to tag along to survive in your new hostile traveling environment.
Do you want to learn a new language? Like really, really, really want to? Good! Then continue reading because you poses the one and only skill you need to learn a new language. It is the most important thing in language learning: Persistency.
This article will jump start you straight into easy language learning and give you a nice list of how to further down!
It may be your first big trip, or your hundredth, regardless all of us will have had that same experience.
Do you recall that first moment in a new country where they speak some funny language?
Arriving in a country for the first time after having spent hours high in the sky in some aerodynamic tin can?
That first step out of the airport into the craziness of a new country, culture and language?
It will hit you in the face straight away “Excuse me sir, where do I find the buses and taxi’s?” is what you ask, and all you get in return is a strange empty gaze.
“Great. No one has bothered to learn my universally excepted language” is what your mind tells you.
That moment makes you realize, you will probably need to put some effort to get by in this new place.
Well to be honest, I had absolutely no skill of any language but my native. I didn’t care much for all that. It’s school. It’s boring. It’s just more homework.
But I have experienced language being one of the most determining factors for your style of traveling. Depending on what you are looking for, you will need to add onto your current skill-set by picking up a new language to a certain extent. You will have to learn at least to ask for directions and some numbers to handle cash but wouldn’t it be even more fun to be able to throw in an occasional chat up line to impress the locals. Heck, the best way to learn is to find yourself a cute local lover!
The most memorable experiences of my travels were those ending up staying in some local’s house for two weeks, attending a graduation party at a university just down the block, having a whole day at some caves with a local 30 year older lady who spoke no English whatsoever, talking to this legendary taxi driver in his Dinky Toy ride in search for a hostel as we pretty much drove around the whole of Lima, Peru. I can just keep on going but it are these types of experiences that make your trip feel genuine.
Now how do you go by mastering these new skills?
To be honest, in this case there is just one way: Speak it!
Followed by the one golden rule: Give no shit! Don’t be afraid or ashamed to make mistakes, you will most likely do. It will cause for funny situations and you will make new friends doing so.
This really is the most important tip someone can give you. I have been passing it along too, and it has helped so many people. Set yourself a time frame of foreign-only language speaking. No reverting back to English and before you know it you will find your mind racing trying to remember those few words you know but will be able to turn them into a sentence of some sort. SPEAK SPEAK SPEAK!
To get to learn those few words (really you only need a few) try the next tips:
To get started buy yourself a notebook and a pen. That’s all you’ll need.
Now start keeping track of nouns and verbs you want to use in your sentences, combining those will be your start to any language.
Use a smartphone app like Google Translate which you can pre download for offline use or lug your old fashioned dictionary around for the non-flashpackers to find the translations you need.
When traveling you are aiming for communicating with the locals, you don’t need to be able to write a scientific paper. That is why you should focus on making yourself understood and being able to understand them. I have found podcasts to be an absolutely amazing tool for this because it makes you get used to the sounds of a language very quickly. And as you will be sitting on buses and trains a lot they are good to kill some time too. But do make sure to not get one of those boring study type ones. I tried that before one of my trips and it just felt like being back at school again. Yuck! It kills that all important persistency I was talking about earlier.
A good one to try, and I absolutely loved for it playfulness, is “Coffee Break Spanish” with Mark and Kara by Radio Lingua, which you can find for free on iTunes.
That really was the instigator to gaining all the Spanish I know to date!
Make sure to check them out at www.radiolingua.com or in the iTunes store. Apart from Spanish they also offer podcast courses in French, German and Italian.
Don’t bother too much yet about how stuff is spelled. Rather go by sounds as I mentioned above. For example I remembered the Spanish word for ‘spoon’ (‘cuchara’, how does a work like that make sense?) because it sounded like ‘coup’ and my friend Chiara’s name combined. Using Mnemonics is a great tool to help you remember the flash flood of information you need to process in a short time when learning a new language. So try to link new words you learn phonetically to words you already know. This is a real strong one to use. Play with it a bit and find what work best for yourself.
Mobile device apps:
When you are at the stage where you want to be able to construct sentences and be a little more grammatically correct, there are some great tools out there! Most of them for free! One of the popular ones is an app called Duo Lingo. www.duolingo.com make sure to check this out.
Practice makes perfect:
Now get out there and start polishing!
Grab up a local newspaper, children’s book, find someone to chat to via Facebook or Skype some person on the other side of the planet via www.mylanguageexchange.com for example.
If you want to start practicing at home, there are loads of digital resources available on the web. A good one is using youtube, listen to online radio stations, trying to read local websites etc.
Have fun because that’s the most important thing, and just don’t forget to keep on speaking it! Speak, speak, speak!